Maneuvering the Awkward Salary Negotiation

Here’s all you need to know about negotiating your salary.

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For most young professionals, salary negotiations are the dreaded part of the whole interview process. The lack of online information coupled with money being a taboo topic in most social and professional settings, does not make this any easier. With time and experience, this will be less painful as you move along in your career. Negotiating your salary is important, it sets the foundation for future salary raises. We’ve put together tips on getting through this with proper research, a perspective shift and a little flexibility. 

Get a good understanding of the market rate/industry standard

How much homework you want to invest in is completely up to you. At the very least, use sites like Glassdoor to get a basic understanding of the salary range for the position you’re interviewing for. You should aim for the maximum in this bracket, so that the final offer (which might be significantly lower) will still be acceptable. You could also reach out to recruiters in your industry to find out what the industry standard is but this might take some effort and time. 

Know your worth

You have the best understanding of your abilities and knowledge, and should be able to assess if you’re getting lowballed. Before broaching this topic, decide for yourself what’s the lowest you’re willing to go and stick to it. If you’re proposed a final offer that’s below this, walk away from the table. 

It’s a salary negotiation, not a hostage situation

Evaluate the offer on a case-by-case basis. If it’s a small and early-stage startup, chances are that money’s tight. See if compensating employee benefits are available. The usual offers tend to be equity stock options, extra holiday leave, commissions, gym membership or public transport reimbursements. You have to make the ultimate decision if this is a pay-off you’d be satisfied with.

Don’t disclose your exact current salary

It might be illegal for prospective employers to ask you for the current salary in some countries, so do read up on the legislation before heading into the negotiation. Even if it’s not illegal, should you be asked to disclose your current salary, that should raise some concerns. Giving out your current salary might make the hiring manager think that you did the same job for that amount before so you could do it for the same now. In actuality, you really should be getting at least 10% more than what you used to. What you could indicate is the range in which your current salary falls, if you feel so inclined. 

Patience is a virtue

Hold it off till the very last minute, unless the hiring manager brings it up. When negotiating, don’t be too quick to give a response. Taking a few minutes and offering a “hmm” may prompt the other party to increase the offer. 

This is a skill that will only get better with time and experience so don’t feel defeated if it doesn’t work out great the first time around. Preparation is important, practicing with a friend or mentor could help you figure out the best strategy and approach.

Jason Reich
Co-Founder | TalentSpace

Jason is a co-founder of TalentSpace, where he keeps himself up at night thinking of new and innovative ways to make recruiting an enjoyable and fruitful experience for everyone. He's worked on the international expansion of US-startups, Casper and HotelTonight (acquired by Airbnb), and was also on the Value Creation team of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt's VC, Innovation Endeavors. He graduated from Bocconi University.

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