Negotiating a better salary at the time of a job offer can significantly increase your pay in a very short amount of time.
Here are some approaches that may help you navigate the negotiation process in a stronger position than you would otherwise find yourself.
As you conduct your job search, you are essentially the seller — of your skills, of your experience and so on — and potential employers are the buyers. In any sales situation, the buyers have the advantage.
Once an employer decides to hire you and makes a job offer, they have become the seller and you the buyer. You are now the one with the advantage in the negotiating process.
You may now be able to negotiate a better salary than the one first being offered.
Most jobs have a salary range rather than a set salary. Most job offers start at the bottom of that range. Most employers make job offers, especially in today’s tight economy, that are low and they would be willing to increase the offer if they thought they had to in order to get you.
The key is to proceed without missing out on the opportunity to accept the job if the employer is not willing to increase the salary and you want the job as offered.
It is usually best not to accept a job offer on the spot. Most employers will allow you to think about it, talk it over with your family and let them know the next day.
Also, once the employer has decided to hire you, the second or third choices are not even a consideration any longer. When an employer makes you a job offer, they want you and they are typically willing to do what is needed to get you.
As to specifics, if the offer is one that you can’t accept unless you can negotiate a better salary, simply say so, give your salary requirements and let the employer decide if they can meet your demands.
If you are willing to accept the offer but would like a better salary, you can present a carefully worded counteroffer by giving a specific salary, not a broad rounded-off amount. That amount should be determined by your personal budget and it should be real.
For example, if you are offered $45,000, rather than counter with $50,000, you can counter with something like $49,240, again, based on your real budget needs. The counteroffer would say something like, “I have gone over our budget with my spouse and we would like $49,240 to really meet our needs.”
If the employer is not willing to accept your counteroffer, you can still accept the original offer by saying something like, “Well, we talked about this possibility and we can tighten our budget to fit that salary. I would like to accept your offer.”
Another approach is to repeat the amount in the offer and then go silent. You don’t want to show any sign of what you are thinking, just repeat the amount and then go perfectly silent. Your thoughts should focus on how you will respond to all the possible responses by the employer.
This may feel a little awkward but if you let the employer break the silence, their response will give you a feel as to whether they may offer you more. I taught this approach to an executive who was offered $70,000.
The executive repeated the amount and went silent. The employer left without saying a word and returned a few minutes later. The employer then said, “I have talked to our human resources department and we can increase the offer to $78,000. Would that work better for you?”
The irony is that the executive had not uttered a word. Had the employer taken a less advantageous approach, the executive could have responded with something like, “I would like to talk this over with my family. Can I let you know tomorrow?” And then, of course, he still had the option of countering with an amount based on the family budget.
Again, these are not techniques to play some game with the employer, they are approaches to help you through a legitimate negotiating process that puts you in a stronger position.
Ron Campbell has worked extensively in the job preparation and job search industry. He is vice president of strategic planning for EnableUtah. He can be reached at 801-386-1111 or firstname.lastname@example.org, salary.