Three tips to excel at salary negotiations

It’s official: You’ve secured a promising post-graduation job offer! Now comes the tricky part: Salary negotiations.

For decades, employees were indirectly—and sometimes expressly—told to refrain from “money talk” in the workplace and amongst peers. All of this created an environment that made salary negotiations a sticky situation. But that’s changing. There’s now a greater acceptance of discussing salary with colleagues and friends in your field.

“I used to be afraid of talking about money with my co-workers because it felt like a taboo topic, writes Christen Nino De Guzman, founder of Clara, a community for creators focused on connection and transparency. “But the first time I openly discussed my salary with a co-worker/friend, I found out I was being underpaid and ended up leaving the company. If no one talks about compensation, we will continue to see pay disparities.”

In fact, salary transparency has become so important that the New York City Council has passed legislation requiring employers to publicly disclose minimum and maximum salary rates come this November. A small but mighty win for job seekers.

Navigating your first salary negotiation can feel stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Not when you have a road map that can lead you to success. Here’s how to get there.

Do Some Salary Sleuthing

Before you head into negotiations, equip yourself with as much knowledge as is readily available. A helpful tool to acquire such information: LinkedIn Salary.

LinkedIn Salary lets you view salaries based on job title, location, company size, and more. Once you dig in, you’ll see the estimated salaries based on thousands of responses from working professionals.

In addition, many employers proactively share salary data. For example, LinkedIn job postings that include salary information have increased 44% since last year.

Jeffrey Zhang, founder of Boba Chats—a new platform centered around conversation and ambition—did some reconnaissance before he accepted a post-graduation job offer. That research paid off big time. In a LinkedIn post, Jeffrey shared the exact email he sent to land a six-figure project manager job at software giant Oracle.

“Please do not accept the first offer given to you!” he writes. “See what other people are getting, then ask for 50% more than the highest.”

“If you don’t believe you’re worth that much, then no one will.”

Play Up Your Skills and Experience

Once you determine a fair pay range, it’s time to prepare for the negotiation. If you’re a recent graduate or career starter, you may not have a wealth of experience built up. Don’t let this diminish your worth.

Give the recruiter or hiring manager examples of your skills and successes. Clearly explain what you bring to the table, and describe how you’ll be a surefire asset to the company. 

“Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth in negotiations,” writes Jerry Lee, co-founder of career-starting company Wonsulting. “Remember – you may have had to go through 10 interviews to land 1 offer, but the other company also had to interview 50+ candidates to get to you.”

Financial consultant Kirsten Garnados recommends asking yourself the following questions when tackling this step:

“How long did it take to become proficient at what you do? What new information have you learned and applied in the past year that’s added value to your service? If you were to rate yourself on how good you were when starting from 1-10 to now, what number would you put on it?”

Think Total Compensation

The time has come: You present your case, state your worth and value, and ask for a salary that matches your desired fair market value. But negotiations don’t always end there.

Perhaps the hiring manager can only raise their offer slightly, still below what you’re asking. Sure, that can be disappointing. But don’t give up hope yet. 

“Ask your manager and HR team to see what steps you can take to make up for the difference in your current pay and the fair market rate,” advises Jerry.

Additional compensation can come in many differing forms, such as a sign-on bonus, year-end bonus, or equity.

You’ve Got This

By doing some homework, touting your strengths, and negotiating strategically, you’ll dramatically increase your chance of landing a satisfactory salary. Go get ‘em!

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