5 Ways to Prepare for a Salary Negotiation

Every new job comes with an opportunity to negotiate. From recent college graduates to seasoned professionals switching industries, everyone has the power to negotiate. Negotiating for better pay, benefits, or opportunities should be on your mind throughout your career. After all, most companies expect candidates to negotiate, and may pitch a lower initial offer with these expectations in mind.

Whether you’re preparing for an upcoming professional review or want to know how to negotiate a job offer, keep in mind the following five salary negotiation tips that will help you prepare your request:

Do your research before you ask.
Don’t go blind into a salary negotiation. Without research, you lack leverage and may come to regret the salary and benefits you receive. Know your industry’s trends and your value in the marketplace before you accept a number. Tools like payscale.com, salary.com and glassdoor.com will give you an idea of average salaries for your position. Because the cost of living in St. Louis is drastically different than a city like San Francisco or New York, remember to refine your results by title, experience, job responsibilities and location to get the most accurate salary estimate for your position. Once you determine a salary range that aligns with your title and duties, use the information as support for the amount you seek.

Talk to friends, mentors, and other professionals in your industry.
Some people may be comfortable divulging a salary range, but salary isn’t necessarily the only thing you should consider when you come to the negotiating table. Keep in mind other benefits within a compensation package that will help you maintain an optimal quality of life. By getting a broad idea of the benefits and perks other professionals in your industry have, you can expand your ask beyond simply salary.

Consider what you will bring to the company.
If you bring additional unique skill sets that aren’t outlined in the job description, talk to your mentor or a trusted advisor to determine if these skills will give you leverage to negotiate for more. Explain how these particular skills contribute to your overall work and bring your knowledge of what these skills are worth in your industry to the negotiating table.

Package your requests.
When you negotiate, make sure you convey your priorities and make it clear that you’re not simply negotiating for the sake of negotiating. Identify the benefits you consider nonnegotiable before you step into the room and package them with your salary request. By packaging your ask together, you demonstrate that you’ve put thought into what you want and are more likely to receive at least one of your requests.

Always evaluate the first offer.
In salary negotiations, you have to ask for what you’re worth. In many situations, the first number offered in a salary negotiation is not the maximum a company can pay. If a company insists that the number offered is the best that they can do, re-evaluate what you consider non-negotiable and consider if the offer meets your needs.

No matter what salary negotiation tips you use, the most important thing you can bring to the negotiating table is confidence. With confidence, you can communicate your worth articulately and view each negotiation as an opportunity to strengthen your own skills.

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Emily Knippa

Emily Knippa is a St. Louis-based marketer and writer who focuses on content marketing, career development, and personal finance. She enjoys meeting people pursuing inspiring career paths. She’d love to meet you at the next United Way event. Say hello to Emily on Twitter at @emilyknippa.