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Salary Negotiation Strategies

Salary negotiation makes a lot of job seekers uncomfortable. But it doesn’t have to.

Your salary negotiation starts as soon as a Recruiter asks you about your salary expectations. How you answer this question will either put you in a position of strength or weakness – it’s up to you!

While many job seekers feel put on the spot by this question, imagine the alternative. Companies don’t have unlimited funds at their disposal to fill their jobs. They are trying to find the most qualified candidate at the best price. If we can accept that, I think we can all agree on the following: going through a lengthy interview process only to find out that your salary requirements are far beyond the company’s budget would be a huge waste of time.

Rumor has it that the person who puts the first number on the table often gets the short end of the deal in a negotiation. But that’s not always true. In fact, with the salary history ban in effect in New York and other cities, it’s unlikely. By putting a number out there, you’re setting the bar for the negotiation to start. Of course, you don’t want to price yourself out of the role, so this conversation needs to be handled with finesse.

Here are three ways to answer the salary expectation question that put you in control, setting you up for salary negotiation success in the future.

Strategy 1: Try to find out their budget before giving a number.

Why? That way you can get a clear sense of their ideal candidate’s salary and quickly decide if their budget accommodates your expectations or not.

The best way to implement this tactic when asked about your salary expectations is with a response similar to the following:

“This job sounds really interesting to me and is aligned with what I’m looking for in a next step. But while my professional growth is really important to me, so is my financial growth. Could you let me know what’s been budgeted for the role before we talk about my expectations in detail?”

Another way to respond is as follows:

“I really like what I’ve heard about the role so far, but I’m not sure I could give you an accurate salary expectation until I learn more. Why don’t you let me know what’s been budgeted as a starting point?”

Strategy 2: If you have to offer an expectation, offer a number, NOT a range.

Why? Because if you suggest a range, your offer will most likely come in at the bottom of that range. If what you really want and deserve is the at the top, start there.

If you’re caught in a position where you have to give an expectation, make sure it’s a realistic one. You want to suggest a number you’d genuinely be happy accepting. This way if you get it, you don’t have to go through a salary negotiation when your offer comes in! Provide the salary you’re looking for in your next role in the following manner:

“The roles I’m being recruited for are coming in at the $85K mark. That’s very much in line with my expectations. Is that within your budget for this role?”

Now here’s why it’s effective. You’ve given them a fair expectation that you’d happily accept. You’ve also shown that other companies are valuing your experience at that salary level. Additionally, you’ve highlighted that you’re being actively recruited and your profile is in demand. It is a candidate’s market after all.

Strategy 3: Use your initial conversation to refer back to when you get an offer.

Why? Because asking for a higher offer just because it’s what you want doesn’t put you in a position of strength. Referring to something concrete that has been previously discussed is much more powerful.

Setting yourself up well during the initial stage of an interview will also eliminate uncomfortable feelings in a post-offer negotiation. You’ll have a concrete conversation to reference. This way, when you’re asking the company to increase their offer, it’s not a request you’re making on a whim. Instead, you can clearly show that you were open about targeting a specific number from the beginning and that other companies were recruiting you for roles with that salary.

If you went with Strategy #2, you can also comfortably say that the higher salary you’re now asking for is in line with the demands and responsibilities of the role you’ve come to learn about during your interview process.