In modern work culture, change is part of the game. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the average person switches jobs as many as 15 times throughout their career — roughly every three-to-five years. When the new job application comes along, most are well-prepared for cover-letter writing, awkward handshakes, and such stale interview questions as “Where do you see yourself in five years?”. But few are ready for the final challenge: salary negotiation. That’s the point when mild-mannered heads of H.R. turn into KGB officers, ready to deploy whatever tactics to keep your future paycheck within a certain range. It’s tricky territory to tip-toe through, but by keeping a few key principals in mind, one can gain leverage and, possibly, walk away with a few more zeroes in their direct deposit.
Never Give Them The First Number
When the salary conversation first arises, take a cue from 1995 Gwen Stefani: don’t speak. Well, don’t speak directly about the number you want. Career coach Penelope Trunk advises that, when an HR executive asks what you’re looking for, say something along the lines of: I see that you’re asking because you don’t want to waste your time. So if you tell me the range, I’ll tell you if it’s acceptable to me. If they play hardball and don’t relent in their quest to weaken your negotiating stance, stay quiet. It’ll work to your advantage: “You’re showing them you’re the kind of person they want to hire,” says Trunk
Deflect. Deflect. Deflect.
Hiring managers will try to Jedi mind trick you into telling them your previous salary so they can use it as leverage. Stay strong. “Answer by saying that it was a great package and that to you it was worth and give them an out-of-the-stratosphere number,” says Trunk. And don’t be afraid to lay it on like a steak-house saucier: thick. Tell them your previous job was worth way more than the salary. Talk of generous benefits, lessons learned, and how it gave you the chance to do work you’d always dreamed of. “Tell them, There were so many extras, I don’t have an exact number for you, says Trunk.
Figure Out Your Worth
Despite the deflection techniques, you need to arm yourself with proper information. Spend some time checking out such sites as Payscale.com or Salary.com. While John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, warns such resources can be faulty because salaries range so widely between companies and based on experience, they’rea good ally. Another way to know your negotiating range? Search job listings and go on as many interviews as possible. Once you know the market, negotiate for the high-end of the spectrum.
Slow Play It
If you receive a job offer at less money than you’d like, use the same trick you did when you were single and got someone’s digits: Wait a day. Then go back — but not to H.R. “Appeal to the person that hired you,” Challenger says. “Don’t talk too much, but tell them how excited you are about the job, why you’re a perfect fit, and, in not too many words, ask if they can bump it up.”
Salary Won’t Budge? Negotiate For A Better Title
If it seems like your salary is capped by the company, you can gain leverage in other ways, namely by negotiating other incidentals such as a moving allowance, a signing bonus, vacation time. or, better yet, paternity leave. Challenger says that these additional negotiations are often on the table and that phrasing such requests as open-ended questions Would you be able to offer more vacation? works best.
Of course, even the smoothest angle may simply not work for a hiring manager whose hands are tied by tight company finances or strict policies. Upgrading your job title, however, is free for them and could mean a much larger salary for you in the long run. “Negotiating a title will push your career more than negotiating for salary,” Trunk says. Having the extra Senior, Executive, or Head of next to your name could mean thousands more in your next role. “It’s like getting a raise, just at the next company.” Besides, you’ll likely be moving on within three-to-five years anyway.