Secure The Bag: Salary Negotiation 101
After 2 years of FUNemployment, I've gone back to work in corporate America.
It took a while to find the right job and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to jump back in at the same level I was in previously, so I was prepared to take a lower position to get me started in the New York City job market. But God had better planned for me.
When the offer came it was for a position at the highest level I’ve ever been in (or had even applied for!) and although I was grateful, I knew I had to do something I’d never done before…Negotiate My Offer.
Well, I did just that and I was able to secure 10K more than what they initially offered to me.
I know that not every story is a success, but if you are thinking about asking for a raise, job hunting, or if you know someone who is, I want to encourage you to negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
You absolutely can do it!
Here are 6 Tips to Get You Started
Start Prepping Right Now
New Year, new set of goals to achieve, benchmarks to set and objectives to meet. So you should start right now by bookmarking every accomplishment, every email you receive that praises your work and every project completed that exceeded expectations. And continue to save them as the year goes on in a file on your computer. It’s easier to keep track as they occur, than to try to remember what you worked on months ago. This is even helpful come review time. You’ll have all your accomplishments in one place ready to have the discussion with your boss.
I even recommend backing that file up on a USB...just in case.
If you're looking to get a raise at your current job, you may need a list of your significant accomplishments to present your case as to why you deserve one. Make it short and sweet, no longer than 1 page with the MAJOR highlights bulleted. A major highlight is something that went above and beyond what your job requires. And even better if you quantify the impact – how much did you save the company? How much faster than projected were you able to get the product to market? How many new clients did you sign on?
Seek Wise Counsel
No matter if this is your first time in the negotiation process or your tenth, you're going to need reinforcements and the internet should be your first stop. Outside of a general google search, Glassdoor.com is a great resource to get an understanding of what companies in your area are paying for positions like yours. Your company may even be listed and you’ll see the salary ranges and company reviews from current and former employees.
While you’re researching, talk to people you trust and admire who are in your industry and outside of your industry.
Besides my husband I spoke with my cousin who is in a high level position at a major corporation as well my financial advisor. And I was open with them, gave them the figure I was offered and what I was considering asking as a counteroffer. My advisor was the one who told me that the salary figure I had in mind was too low and to ask for more. But she couldn't have offered that advice if I wasn't open with her.
I’m not sure who came up with the idea that we can’t or shouldn’t talk about how much we make but, That. Is. A. Lie! Information is power and there is so much wisdom and insight to gain when we are real with each other. So don’t be afraid and speak up.
Practice, Practice, Practice
My financial advisor offered to do a practice run with me of the negotiation conversation I was going to have and at first in my mind, I thought “Nooooo, I don’t wanna!”. But, I pushed past that thought and agreed to practice with her over the phone. This, I believe is the cherry on top of all the preparations for the negotiations process. Getting that feedback and having the chance to get out the nerves and make tweaks where needed gave me the absolute confidence to have my tough conversation.
Pro Tip: If your negotiation conversation is going to happen over the phone then, practice over the phone. And if it’s going to be in person then do a run thru in person. You want your practice scenario to resemble the real thing as much as possible.
Be Comfortable With Silence
Once you state the figure that you want, consider it a mic drop - pause and stop talking. Let the conversation sink in. Ignore the silence that can sometimes feel awkward and let them be the first to speak. It shows you mean business and honestly, sometimes we can start babbling and either talk our way out of the raise or begin negotiating against ourselves - making concessions because we feel we've asked for too much.
Let them squirm.
Don’t Accept The First Offer
“You don’t ask, you don’t get” – How many times did I hear this from my mom growing up, I can’t even count. But it is absolutely true. A lot of us don't have what we want because we simply have never asked. People of color and women of color especially, we can be so grateful for a job (because it can truly be so difficult to get one), that we settle for the first offer we’re given.
But never just take the first offer, even if it’s for more than you ever dreamed. Know that the company wants to get you for as little as possible and trust that no matter what they pay, they are going to work you like they paid you 10 times as much.
And don’t forget to consider the entire compensation and benefits package. A great salary is amazing but so are perks like, flexible schedules, Fridays off and bonus opportunities.
No, is Not the End of the World
It really isn’t.
But do be prepared for what you will do if the answer is no.
If your potential company won’t budge, then you have to decide if the position is still worth it. Are they under cutting you or is the offer truly fair? Is taking the position the right step for your career or not? Consider it all before you accept or decline.
If your current company won’t budge on a raise, it shows you where you stand and if it’s a place you can grow long term. But it can also put your manager on notice to revisit the conversation next year. Ask for feedback on how you can get an increase and let your manager know that you would like to revisit the raise conversation in one year. If the answer is still no at that time, then perhaps it’s time to make moves elsewhere, that’s up to you.
I hope you find this encouraging. Don't be afraid of having this tough conversation.
If I did it, then you absolutely can too. I’m no expert negotiator but, I did have the courage to ask for what I wanted and that is the only way to get what you want.
Question: What did I miss? Do you have any more tips to help prepare for the salary negotiation conversation?