By Shahla Aliyeva
Negotiating an honest wage can be tricky business, one that involves several factors, including your respective job qualifications and experience in the field (not to mention your prospective employer’s budget).
The process can be made much more manageable, however, by following a handful of basic guidelines.
Know your worth
Know and appreciate how much you are worth. If you have unique job qualifications, be sure to factor this into the salary you are requesting. This applies not only to your educational credentials but also to the particular skills and abilities that make you exceptional.
These can include anything from knowing a foreign language, or an ability to communicate challenging ideas, to a willingness to work longer-than-usual hours, all of which can build your case for a higher wage.
It is only natural that someone with 15 years of experience, for example, would command a much higher salary than someone just starting out. For many employers, work experience is the most crucial consideration in the hiring process, often trumping other relevant factors.
In other words, don’t be modest. If you have unique qualifications and/or lengthy experience, don’t hesitate to point them out to your would-be employer. There is nothing wrong with promoting yourself, especially when negotiating a fair salary.
That being said, be sure to remain honest; don’t endow yourself with qualifications that you can’t rightfully claim. Nothing will hurt your negotiating position more than the perception that you may have embellished or exaggerated something on your resume.
Never stop learning
First and foremost, one should make it a point to never stop learning. No matter how many degrees or certificates you may have under your belt, there is always much more to be learned, both inside and outside your respective field of expertise.
This applies not only to your relative competitiveness in the job market but to life in general. Knowledge of a wide range of subjects will not only make you a more competitive job applicant but can also serve to raise your profile in social settings.
An ability to converse intelligently on a variety of topics, from, say, sports, and politics to the arts and sciences, is an impressive trait. Everyone appreciates engaging conversation, whether it be at a business lunch or a family reunion.
This ability can also give you a leg up with would-be employers who may appreciate your knowledge and input on subjects in which they may have a particular interest.
Know the going rate
Do your homework. Be sure to do a bit of online research before coming to the negotiation table. Deciding on a reasonable salary request will be much easier if you know the generally-accepted rates for the position you are seeking. Notably, this rate may vary depending on the country or region in question.
There are several websites online that can help you determine the going rates for specific positions in particular areas. You can also reach out to others who work in the same field to discover the standard rate for the job you seek.
Everyone’s qualifications are different
Don’t only base your salary request on how much your friends or colleagues are making. Just because someone you know makes a certain amount doesn’t mean that you should earn the same for the same job, and vice versa.
Everyone’s qualifications are different and will not necessarily garner the same compensation.
Be prepared to negotiate
When making an initial salary request, don’t be afraid to come in high and be prepared to negotiate. Employers seldom agree to a prospective hire’s first request. They will most likely make you a counter-offer of less than what you initially ask for.
There are different schools of thought in this regard, but as a general rule of thumb, you should initially ask for about 25 percent more than what you are hoping for. That way, when the prospective employer makes you a lower counter-offer, it will be roughly in line (hopefully) with your expectations.
Photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash
Employee benefits, equally, should be part of your negotiation. These include perks over and above your regular salary, such as medical insurance, vacation days, overtime payments, profit-sharing, and retirement benefits.
You may be willing to forego medical insurance (if you are already covered by a spouse’s insurance plan, for example) in return for a higher monthly wage. Or you might be willing to take fewer vacation days in exchange for compliance with your initial salary request.
Be prepared to walk away
It is always good to walk away from the prospective job if your minimum acceptable salary amount is not met. There are plenty of other employment opportunities out there, especially if you can boast impressive qualifications and/or longtime experience in your field of expertise.
Whatever the case, don’t sell yourself short. If a would-be employer can’t meet your minimum salary requirements, there are plenty of others who will. (Of course, this may also depend on your particular financial situation at the time. It may be within your interest to take the offered position temporarily while continuing to search for higher-paying alternatives.)
Don’t take it personally
Finally, don’t take it personally if a prospective employer fails to meet your minimum expectations. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re ‘not good enough’ but rather that he or she lacks the budget to hire someone with your unique qualifications/experience.
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it."
-- Henry David Thoreau