When you're looking for a new job, advice on how to evaluate and negotiate an appropriate starting salary is invaluable. We've teamed up with acclaimed salary negotiation expert and author, Jack Chapman, to bring you practical advice on negotiating a proper starting salary.
Here are five simple starting salary rules:
- Postpone talking about starting salary until there's an offer on the table.
- Let the other person name a figure first.
- Repeat their starting salary offer and be quiet.
- Share your researched starting salary range and establish your individual value.
- Clinch the deal and deal some more.
When to Discuss Starting Salary
There's not much point in discussing starting salary unless you're sure you're going to get an offer. But more than that, it's not to your advantage to talk about your starting salary. When an employer asks "what are your salary requirements?" or "what are you currently earning?" they're gathering information on your likely expectations. There are maybe two or three right answers to this question and more than 20 wrong ones -- too high and you're screened out, too low and you'll lose money in the initial offer, or you'll be eliminated as under-qualified based on your low salary requirements.
The proper time to discuss your starting salary is after the job position has been defined and you are sure the employer understands what you are bringing to the table.
Until then, a good postponing phrase would be, "All I'll require is a competitive salary. I'll likely be using PayScale and other resources to help determine that -- as I presume you will, too. So I'm confident the starting salary will take care of itself, if I'm the right person for the job."
Who Goes First?
When they're ready to make an offer, here's a second piece of timing advice: don't haul out your research too soon! When it comes to discussing your starting salary, let the employer go first. That way you have a firm starting point that you can be assured of, when it is your turn. Generally, you'll want to bump the starting salary up five to ten percent or more. But, in the worst case scenario, if they go first, you certainly won't get less than their initial offer. And there's always the chance that they'll exceed the starting salary figure you were planning to mention.
NOW do you show your salary research? NO.... not yet.
Repeat the Offer and Be Quiet
Once they name their first figure, respond by repeating their starting salary offer and remaining silent. If they have given you a low-ball offer, and they know it, now's the time for them to increase their offer. Okay, I've heard the offer, I've greeted it with silence, now do I get to use my salary report?
Share Your Researched Range and Establish Your Individual Value
If you're reading this article, you've probably done some research about what your salary should be. If you haven't or want more accurate and reliable salary information, complete our brief salary survey to determine what the average salary and salary range is for your new position.
Now that you have the salary information necessary for negotiating, I want you to learn the value of having a PayScale salary report in hand. The best way to leverage a PayScale salary report for a successful negotiation is to set your own expectations about how you will use your report. Know what information your report contains, and especially know what the data represents - what is behind the numbers - before taking it to the boss or a potential employer.
When you compared your research with your offer, you were either under market, over market or right in the range. If your salary research indicates that the offer is below the range for your specific job and responsibilities, now's the time to share your research with the employer and discuss how the employer arrived at his/her estimates. Often you will find some points of disagreement on which to negotiate an increase.
Keep in mind that the employer will likely view compensation data differently than the employee. Two common points the employer may wish to discuss are the sources used to obtain the data in the report, and whether the data in the report matches your job profile, the company profile and job location.
Finally, when a company wants to buy your time and effort, remember it's a human being who makes the decision. It isn't a cut and dried assessment; it's a rational-emotive process that takes into account many factors that aren't always fair or logical. Your awareness of these factors can greatly improve your chances for improving your salary.
Clinch the Deal and Deal Some More
Finally, you receive a salary that you can live with and is fair. Do you sign it then? Well, yes and no. Yes, you now have a firm base to agree to, that you know you'll be happy with. But, don't stop! It's now time to put your attention on the other factors of the salary-equation gold mine.