4 Tips for Salary Negotiations During the Interview Process

4 Tips for Salary Negotiations During the Interview Process was originally published on Idealist Careers.

Ah, money. We all think about so much of the time, but it can be so uncomfortable to talk about. When it comes to negotiating your salary for a new job, though, it’s critical that you find a way to confidently and appropriately dive into the conversation. 

It can be hard to determine when, how, and if you should bring up salary during the job interview process. With preparation and confidence in your own value, you’ll be able to advocate for yourself whenever the topic comes up. 

Do your research 

Doing your research can give you a good starting point, as well as the confidence that comes from knowing what you’re talking about. Salary tools like Idealist’s Explore Salaries can be a valuable resource. 

You can also research wording and tactics to use for salary negotiations at different points in the process

Don’t be afraid to talk about money 

The truth is, the “right” time to bring up salary may vary depending on the job and the interview process. It has become more common for the topic to come up as early as the initial pre-screen interview. If the person with whom you’re interviewing brings it up, answer honestly to save time for everyone. If they don’t, and you feel comfortable, bring it up and get the question out of the way. You can ask a question, like “would you be able to give me an idea of the salary range for this position, just to make sure we’re on the same page?”. 

If you think you should wait to discuss salary, follow your instincts. If you can afford to wait it out, or you already have an idea of the salary, you may choose to skip that chat at the beginning stages and wait until you have an offer

If you do discuss it, it’s a good idea to speak in terms of a range rather than a specific dollar amount. This will give you some flexibility as the interview process goes on. Consider putting the number you want at the lower end of the range, and then going up 5-10% from there. For example, rather than asking for a static $50,000, consider saying you’re looking in the $50,000-$55,000 range and that you may be flexible when benefits are taken into consideration (if that’s true for you). 

Pro Tip: Now that more states are requiring employers to include salary range in job listings, there’s a good chance that you’ll already know where to set initial salary expectations after reading the job listing. That’s progress!

Discuss your salary range with tact and confidence

You’ve done your research, so take comfort in the knowledge that you know what you’re talking about. Be diplomatic, but don’t behave as if you’re doing something wrong; speak calmly and authoritatively. In fact, you can even say something like “I wanted to check in about compensation, to see if it lines up with the research I’ve done about the position.” Just be ready to answer if they flip the question back to you and ask what your research uncovered. 

Also keep in mind that your salary potential does not have to be anchored in your salary history. In fact, an increasing number of states are making it illegal for employers to demand salary histories in an attempt to move away from structural pay inequalities. Being underpaid by former employers shouldn’t sentence you to low salaries moving forward. 

Negotiate politely—but clearly 

Once a hiring manager has made an offer, no one should be surprised that you want to negotiate. It doesn’t mean they can or will play along, but it’s your right to bring up salary and advocate for yourself. Try to strike a balance between showing an understanding of where they’re coming from, and reiterating your own talking points. Something like, “I completely understand what you’re saying, and I’m willing to discuss it. I do want to talk about how we can move toward $60,000. It’s the market value for the role, and it’s where I should be based on my experience and achievements,” shows that you’re listening but you also know your worth. 

If you try to negotiate and an employer makes it clear that they won’t budge on money, you still have options. Consider negotiating other benefits like flex time, title changes, or better projects. Ask how potential future raises or bonuses might work, or about opportunities for growth, and try to get anything they’re able to offer you in writing. If they can’t give you answers that are sustainable for your life and wellbeing, ask yourself if this is the right fit. 

Compensation is important. Know your worth, and ask for it. 


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