Discussing money in an interview is never easy. And asking for more of it when being offered a job feels even more difficult.  

You have the skills. You’re ready to make a positive impact. You know you’re worth it. Yet just before the interview, doubt creeps in because no transition is complete without a little angst.

Even the most experienced among us has felt they didn't deserve X pay or X title, even when perfectly primed to be successful. That’s why this salary negotiation overview is so important. It’s a simple how-to guide to keep your mental chatter low so you can aim for a better position and higher pay.

Doing your research, asking for your value, and being strategic are the keys to earning the salary you want. Whether you’re changing careers, getting a promotion from your current employer, or deciding between multiple offers, applying these fundamentals can help you earn the salary you deserve.

You can find anything on the internet, and that includes salary info. Before an interview, research what’s happening in the job market and where a company has been and is projected to go. Take to the web like a detective and build your case for why the salary you’re asking for is relevant and fair.

Here are a few Google searches to help get you started:

  1. What’s the average salary of a [desired role] in [desired location]?
  2. What’s the projected growth of the role?
  3. What does the tech job market look like in 2021?
  4. What are the top skills of a [desired role]?

Take notes. Write down questions. Make a framework that connects your skills to the highlighted abilities. The more you know, the more confident you’ll feel when you get asked what your desired salary is.

Once you’re feeling more knowledgeable about job market trends, the next phase of your research should be focused on the company you’re interviewing with. Here are some things to consider that will aid your foundational understanding of the company before asking for more:

  1. What’s the average salary at [desired company]?
  2. How long has the company been in business?
  3. What are other open positions at the company?
  4. What are the advertised salaries?
  5. What’s an advertised salary for a similar role somewhere else?
  6. Does this company offer equity in addition to a base salary?

These questions will help solidify your consideration of what others in that role are making and where the company you’re assessing is going in the future. This is essential to establishing your base pay expectations.  

Figure Out What You're Worth

Seems like a fairly simple task, but landing on that golden number takes deliberate consideration. Knowing your value doesn’t just mean understanding what the average salary is for a specific role, it’s about setting a minimum criteria that feels good to you and holding to it because you know your skills will add value to the company. Don’t forget, your guidelines can change between different roles you’re interested in.

Here are a few benefits you can negotiate in addition to salary:

Low-balling happens, so why leave room for that experience to occur? Be preemptive by having a set of non-negotiables and be upfront with your ask. It may feel scary to be direct—the worry that your offer will be rescinded is real, but if a company isn’t willing to meet you where you are based upon your skills and experience, there is another company who will. Keep focused on your golden requirements!

One helpful tactic to help you hold strong to your goals and support your non-negotiables list is to have an outline of accomplishments from each role. Not just for leverage, but for personal validation. You worked hard to get where you are, and your experiences should be honored. Here's an example of an outline to have at your workstation to keep your eyes on the prize:

Be Strategic

There’s a difference between establishing non-negotiables and having adaptive boundaries. When you’re in the process of navigating a job offer, the ability to be strategic with your expectations is essential.

For instance, if you’re offered a position but the base salary is lower than you expected, instead of rejecting the offer because it didn’t meet one criteria, consider what else is being offered.

Having adaptive boundaries is about seeing the bigger picture and weighing all your options. This is your moment to get more than a specific salary.

Tips for Changing Careers

If you’re changing careers or industries, you may feel compelled to accept whatever you’re offered, but that’s not the case. Don’t sell yourself short; consider the ways you add value that the hiring panel didn’t even think they needed. Here are two ways you can leverage your previous experience and skills:

  1. Define your professional identity

    Brenda Bridges, Thinkful Career Coach, advises applicants to “tell  your story in a way that highlights your greatest value adds and  showcases your passion. Then integrate those things into your career  materials (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn, portfolio). Either brand yourself or risk being branded by others."  
  2. Identify your transferrable skills

    Technical skills may feel like the topic at hand when getting into the tech industry, but your soft skills are just as important. Showcase your communication skills, work ethic, flexibility, and drive to learn more—all transferrable skills any employer views positively.

Salary Negotiation Script

Wondering what a productive salary negotiation looks like when entering a new industry? This script can help.

Recruiter or hiring manager: “We’d like to offer you a position with our team. What are your salary expectations?”

Candidate: “Being that this is a new role for me, I’d like to land at a salary between X and X.”

Recruiter or hiring manager: “Can you elaborate on how your skills validate that salary?”

Candidate: “My experience doing X, Y, and Z will help me in X, Y, Z ways. The position asks for 1, 2, 3 skills and  I have proven experience completing those responsibilities. Here are a  few metrics that support my ability to deliver on the essentials and more: 1,2,3.”

As with all negotiations, you may not end up finding middle ground with that employer. At that point, if your non-negotiables aren’t met, it’s time for you to decide to continue searching or accepting the offer.

How to Ask for A Promotion  

If you’re happy with your employer and are going up for a different role, use data to show the full scope of your impact at the company. If you were offered less than what you think is fair for the position your counteroffer should include:  

Here’s a great example of what a counter-offer email can look like:

“Thank you for your offer of employment as a X with a salary of Y. Based on my x years of experience, involvement supporting company initiatives, and working cross-functionally on x project, I would be more comfortable if we could settle on X. I feel that amount reflects the importance and expectations of the position.”

There may be several rounds of back and forth before settling but remember: your company is obviously dedicated to keeping valuable talent and they want you to continue thriving with them.

How to Decide Between Multiple Job Offers

If you’re lucky enough to be offered several jobs at once, this is your moment to be extra considerate. The tried-and-true pros and cons list will be helpful to you. Revisit your list of adaptive boundaries and articulate what compromises you are open to in lieu of a higher salary.  

Here’s what a conversation in this situation could look like:

“Thank you for your offer of employment as a X with a salary of Y. As  I mentioned during my interview process, I am speaking with a couple of  other companies. If you’re able to move the pay to [insert your  number], I’d be eager to accept the offer.”

If the company comes back with an offer that still doesn’t meet your base expectations, articulate what you’re open to.

“Thank you for considering my counteroffer. I understand the best you can do is X, and you can’t come up to Y. If you can do X and offer an extra week of paid vacation each year, and flexible working hours then I’d love to accept your offer.”

All in all, the most important thing to remember when negotiating salary is you’re worth it. Thinkful Career Coach Elyse Yarnell’s advises interviewees to:

If you’re relatively new to your field or trying to change careers, there are skills that will enable you to ask for that higher salary. Check out our full-time and part-time courses to find the one that will get you on the path to that next job or promotion.

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