6 Tips On Negotiating Salary from an HR Insider

Think about the last time you bought a car—did you negotiate the price? Maybe you tried bargaining on other features like extra services or an extended warranty? Or maybe you’re like a lot of people, and you paid the sticker price just to avoid confrontation.

If the mere thought of having to negotiate anything, especially your own salary, makes you tense, this post is for you. As an HR Manager at an HR software company, I’ve seen (almost) everything. It’s easier than you think to negotiate successfully—and that also goes for negotiating a job offer or a raise. I put together a list of six tips on how to nail your next salary chat.

1. Know Your (True) Worth

As HR pros, we know when someone is trying to inflate their salary. We know the salary bands for different positions in different markets, and there’s a good chance we have a range already budgeted for you. I had a candidate once ask for 200,000 dollars for a role that paid 50,000 to 60,000 dollars. Needless to say, we did not move them along to the next round.

A successful negotiation clarifies what both sides have to offer in the context of the local job market. That means you should be researching compensation data for your position (or desired position) in your city to get an honest idea of what you can ask for. Then be ready to justify the numbers you come up with based on your skills and core competencies.

2. Develop the Right Mindset

Knowing your worth helps you change your frame of reference and see negotiation not as a win-lose situation but as a win-win. Negotiation doesn't mean conflict—it means communicating your needs to get what you deserve. Good employers want to pay you what you deserve to keep you with them long-term, so they need to know what you expect.

If you have an aversion to conflict that makes negotiation feel unnatural, understanding a job offer as an ongoing exchange can help you feel comfortable with the mechanics and best practices of negotiating. Done right, your negotiation will lead to a future where your work helps the organization grow, and your contribution leads to increased compensation.

3. Ask Responsive Questions

How you act and appear during the negotiation makes a difference in how well it goes. Before you go into a job interview, do your own research on the company and the person you’re meeting with. Then, during your interview, be sure to ask your own questions about things like:

4. Check Your Surroundings

Digital interviewing is a relatively new consideration for an effective presence during negotiation. What you wear still matters (at least from the waist up), but your environment through the screen is important as well. Try to avoid common virtual pitfalls by making sure you’re in a space where you can put your best foot forward—find an area free of noise and distractions so you can focus on the interview and ask responsive questions. Finally, make sure your background is presentable and professional. Your space doesn’t need to impress, it just shouldn’t distract.

5. Be Firm but Flexible

Being prepared for the negotiation is essential, but there’s only so much you can do in advance. With this in mind, come with a salary range in mind rather than a single figure.

This helps you in two ways:

  1. It establishes your bottom line. If they come in lower than your bottom number, maybe the position isn’t the right fit. It gives you the freedom to hold a firm boundary on your worth.
  2. A range gives you flexibility. The person making the final decision wants you to be happy, so a range allows both sides to finesse the numbers until a compromise is reached.

6. Think About the Total Package

Compensation encompasses more than what’s deposited in your bank account, so ask about the total benefits package for the role. Again, there may be a strict budget salary-wise, but the hiring team wants to do everything they can to keep you! HR supports them by developing programs and benefits tailored to specific employee needs, helping their organization can stay ahead of their competitors for talent.

If you’re enthralled with a company but unsure about the salary number, here are a few programs you can ask about to get a clearer picture of how that new job would change your life and your finances:

Negotiating Is a Team Sport

Following these tips will hopefully give you more confidence going into your interview or review. Politeness, punctuality, and personality are the first steps towards earning you favorable compensation, but a few tweaks to the specifics will definitely help. Think about negotiating like you’re on the same team as the other person, both trying to reach the same goal—getting you the job you want!