Your ability to negotiate is one of the most important tools in your career toolkit. Being able to negotiate with an employer can make a huge difference in your take home pay, happiness in your role and your overall quality of life. And yet, negotiation is something that is often overlooked. It is not a skill we are taught in school and can feel overwhelming and daunting to execute. Here are a few tips and tricks you can use to strengthen your negotiating skills and help you advocate for yourself during the hiring process, contract renewals and other pivotal points in your career.
Reiterate Your Interest and Excitement
Whether you are negotiating a compensation package for a new role, or renegotiating a contract with your current employer, start by assuring them that you are interested and excited about the role and the work that you do, or will be doing.
Salary vs. Skill Set
It is important when negotiating your salary to have a full scope, not only of the competitive rate for the title of your role, but also to take into consideration the expectations of your specific role as well as your experience and skill set. Before you go into any negotiations be sure to do your research. Understand what the going rate is for your role, in the city you live and your years of experience. These factors all play a role in deciding what your time is worth.
Here is an example of how you can start this conversation with a new employer:
“Thank you so much for the offer. I want to make sure the salary I accept is commensurate with my skills, experience as well as my role. I’ve done some thinking about the offer and in terms of my career progression, the amount offered is a slight step back for me. I believe I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role including x, y, z.”
By telling them that the offer is a step back, you position yourself as having more value, as your previous employer was willing to pay more for your contribution. In this initial conversation you will also want to list these things that you bring to the table which can include your experience, specific skill set and the expectations of the specific role and company that are outlined either in the job description, interview, or contract. Because you are asking for more, you want to come to the conversation armed with a reason why you are worth more and why they should give you more than the original offer.
Build Your Sunshine Folder
If you haven’t already started a sunshine folder, build one today. Your sunshine folder is a folder on your desktop, or email where you catalogue your professional wins. This can include messages from your boss, co-workers, or outside parties (customers, clients, partners, etc.) that reflect your great work. It can also include any metrics, or data, or reports that show how you have exceeded expectations, met goals and moved the needle in your role. This is essentially your ammunition when it comes to making your case in professional circumstances such as performance reviews, job interviews and negotiations. This should be a place you can go to for reference when you need to show your value as an employee. It can also be a great place to boost your confidence when you might need it.
Don’t Name Your Price
When making your negotiation it can sometimes be difficult to know what to ask for, and in fact it’s best if you don’t. You don’t know what the budget is on hand for the employer, so you don’t want to ask for too much, but you also don’t want to undersell yourself. Rather than asking for a specific amount, try to encourage the employer to come back with a counter offer. You can do this like this:
“Considering my previous experience, my skill set and the expectations of the role, I was hoping we could have a conversation about my compensation. I’d like to know what you think and if there is some flexibility?”
By leaving the conversation open ended, you allow space for the employer to offer another number.
Though most job offers do have wiggle room for a higher salary, there may be a chance that they don’t offer you more and that’s ok. If that is the case, you have other opportunities. You can reposition your negotiation towards a “total compensation package”, rather than focused solely on a yearly salary. Ask if there is anything else the company can offer for example:
• Bonuses based on performance
• More vacation days
• Work from home benefits
• An opportunity to renegotiate after 3 month probation period
When a company makes an initial offer, it is very likely that the compensation is less than what the company is willing to pay or what they have in the budget for your role. That is because they will often build in some padding for negotiations. Remember this the next time you are offered a role, or contract. The worst thing that could happen is they say, “no.” Even in these cases, they may offer you an opportunity to renegotiate in a few months, or to bump your pay based on performance in the future. Negotiating for fair pay is one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself and it feels amazing. To paraphrase Cher Horowitz, “Never accept a first offer, it’s just a jumping off point to start negotiations.”
If you are currently in negotiations about a contract with an employer and need some guidance, book a Career Meeting with Style Nine to Five founder Christie Lohr today. She can help strategize and give you the confidence to ask for what you deserve!
Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.
Featured Image: Adobe Stock