For whatever reason, money is a universally uncomfortable topic. If you’ve ever read a birthday card while pretending to ignore the check inside, then you know what we’re talking about. And that’s just a gift from your grandma! Higher stakes come with added pressures and few situations have heavier monetary implications than the recruiting process. After all, who wants to put a dollar amount on their own worth?
There are some pretty compelling reasons not to give a recruiter your price too early as well as not to accept the first number on the table. However, let’s assume either you or the recruiter have already suggested a dollar amount. Let’s discuss how you can justify your salary expectations or counteroffer.
Your Current Salary
The best case scenario to disclose your salary is if you’re making well above other colleagues in your field. You could build a case that your superior abilities put you at the top of the pay scale. Based on the rate at which your salary has increased over time, you would give your recruiter the salary that naturally follows the trend. Even then, you don’t need to share the number on your most recent paycheck.
Tread lightly if you’re tempted to leverage your current salary. Even if your most recent salary raises the offer, it could anchor your price to a number that’s lower than what they were actually willing to pay.
Businesses love a good deal. Chances are they’ve done their research and know how much it’s going to cost to get someone like you in their open position. They also bank on the chances that you don’t know how much they’re expecting to cough up. Recruiters may pretend like you’re driving a hard bargain to get you to quit pushing. Tools like LinkedIn’s salary database can help you confidently stand your ground.
On the other hand, salary estimators may tell you that you’re asking too much or applying for the wrong jobs. Factors like location, industry, education, years of experience, and even company size benchmark a candidate or position’s market value.
Some jobs, like sales roles, hold distinctly measurable value for companies– more sales equals more revenue. That’s why many jobs in this category offer performance-based compensation, also known as commissions or bonuses. Other positions are much harder to link directly to the bottom line, but obviously, still hold value. If you have the information available to estimate how much your work is worth to the company, by all means, lay it out for them. Be sure to bring concrete evidence and be reasonable.
Don’t forget that money isn’t the only thing a company can offer you in exchange for your time and talents. If their budget won’t budge, consider negotiating better paid holidays, insurance packages, PTO, 401K plans, and more.
Negotiating a salary is not greedy and should not feel like begging for scraps. Like any big-ticket sales deal, salary negotiation is just two parties offering value to one another. In plainer terms, they need you as much as you need them. Once you understand that you have equal bargaining power, you’ll feel confident that whatever salary you accept is one that you entirely deserve, and not a penny less.