Ask the Coach – Salary Negotiation (Part I)

 

Hello all!  Last week we had a great webinar on salary negotiation, presented by myself (Kioshana LaCount Burrell) and our director, Marilyn Bury Rice.  After that presentation, we were inundated with questions from you all about specifics surrounding the topic.  Here are the answers to some of the burning questions you all submitted to us after that presentation regarding your specific questions on the negotiation process:

 

When you are negotiating, should you counter with your “optimal” salary or counter with slightly above your optimal salary, assuming they will negotiate down?

When you are negotiating, remember that the idea is for both of you to compromise in order for everyone to feel like they won all around.  Therefore, if there is a specific number that you are looking to reach, I would suggest countering slightly higher.  That way, the employer has room to come down a bit if he or she cannot accommodate that number, and you will still likely obtain the rate that you wanted initially.

 

Can you share how large of a range you suggest sharing if pushed for expectations on that first HR call?

If you are absolutely being pushed for a range on the first call/phone screen, be as broad as possible.  Up to $15k in salary difference is fine – just be sure not to start way below what you actually want or need to move forward.  For example, if you are expecting/hoping for $75k, then I would say that my range is $70k – $80k, depending on the market rate for the job.  Don’t, however, start the range at $65k, because then the employer will have the impression that you are willing to accept $65k as a reasonable salary for the job that you actually want (and should be) paid $75k for.

 

On OSU website there are salary targets, does this mean this is out window to negotiate our offer?

Not at all!  Salary negotiations happen every day in hiring processes, even here at OSU.  The salary targets on the postings are there to give you an idea of what range you should be expecting for this type of job, but are not set in stone.  It may be difficult to negotiate a $20k raise from the posted target salary, but there is still room for wiggle within that range.

 

Next week will be my 1st year anniversary at my current company. My first year, my manager and I have never talked about raises. How do I talk about raise if supposedly they don’t give me a raise on my 1st year anniversary? FYI, I did not negotiate this job offer – due to excitement and I’m somewhat underpaid.

You anniversary is a great time to open the door to a discussion on salary increase, because this is usually the time of year where you are receiving an evaluation.  There will be an open dialogue between you and your employer about your work on the team over the last year, and you should use that as an opening to broach the conversation about obtaining a salary increase.  Be sure to speak to any positive contributions that you have made to your work environment and highlight any areas where you can show that you have added value to the team.

 

What is your take on relocation packages?  Do you think it’s worth negotiating for if it was told in the phone screening that it is not built into the level of this role? But it’s something you could discuss/negotiate with the hiring manager himself.

Relocation packages are a tricky thing – especially if you’ve already been told that the company does not offer them.  However, it does not hurt to ask once you’ve obtained an offer.  Remember, though, that negotiation should be completed in a tiered approach.  You should negotiate with the most important things to you first, understanding that you will likely not get everything on your list of wants.

 

Do you have any tips for negotiating a raise in your current position/company?

Generally speaking, this is something that is easiest to negotiate during an evaluation period.  This is because your manager has spent time looking at your work for the last period of time (quarter, 6 months, or year) and has therefore come up with a definitive opinion about the value that you add to the team.  However, even if you are not in an evaluation stage, you can negotiate a raise using the same tactics you would at the beginning of the job.

First, you’ll need to do some research and determine what a fair salary is for your role.  You’ll also need to outline the specific amount of increase that you want and be able to justify why you deserve that increase.  You do this by demonstrating ways that you have had a positive impact on the business – have you been able to save the company time or money by streamlining processes?  Have you seen an increase in sales based on something that you have chosen to do differently?  Do you consistently meet and exceed expectations, etc?  Use this information to build the case for your raise and then request a meeting with your supervisor to go over your pitch.  The key is to be clear and confident when talking to him or her, and to communicate your value in a way that leaves no room for rebuttal.

 

What do I do when the HR manager says “this offer is not negotiable” or “this is our highest offer/best we can do?”

Thank them for their time, and then ask for time to evaluate.  You need to determine whether or not the offer as it stands meets your needs, or if you need to walk away from that opportunity.  You can also ask if other things are negotiable (for example, perhaps salary is set, but you’re able to negotiate some additional benefits from the offer instead).  Evaluate the total offer, and figure out where it falls within your needs – and decide whether to accept or decline based on that.

 

Is it a bad sign if an employer needs an answer in 24 hours and is not flexible on that timeline?

It isn’t necessarily a bad sign, but it may be an indicator of whether or not this is a company that you want to work with.  This shows some inflexibility on the part of the employer – therefore, you need to be able to make a decision quickly.  If you cannot fully come to terms with accepting the offer within that period of time, then don’t feel bad about walking away.  Never allow yourself to feel overly pressured into a situation that you are unsure about because you don’t have adequate time to make a decision.  Remember that you are in control of the choices that you make regarding your employment – if you aren’t sure about the offer, then it is more than acceptable to decline and continue with your search for the right fit.

 

If an employer asks why I declined an offer and it is b/c the salary was too low, should I be honest about that?

It is fair, and even important, to let an employer know that you declined his or her offer because their salary did not meet your needs.  Be polite and courteous, but also frank when communicating this to them.  You might even be surprised at receiving a counter offer.

 

My current superior is stepping into a new role and therefore, his current position will be coming open in a few months. We have worked together for a year now in a company that has a more family-like, casual/relational approach than a rigid business approach, so we have become friends. As part of his new role, he will be making the deciding factor on who steps into his position coming open and salary for that person. I will apply and interview for this position. Any advice on how to navigate negotiation if offered the position?

Be all about business during the negotiation process – do not lean on the fact that you have a friendly relationship with this person.  Although you are friends, his job is to choose the best fit for the business as a whole.  Therefore, you should be able to showcase the value that you add to the company through the use of examples that speak to your track record as a strong employee and leader within your team.  Not only will this be a more effective route to take, it will also likely win you additional respect among your peers and supervisors.

 

Is it appropriate to ask broadly what benefits are negotiable? Companies present benefits packages as being standardized across the company or certain roles

Once you’re in the space of negotiating salary, it is absolutely appropriate to also ask questions about benefits, and negotiate there as well.  There may be less room for wiggle with a benefits package, but it won’t hurt you to ask.  I’ve personally been able to negotiate things like an extra week of vacation and the ability to forego waiting a 90 day period for insurance benefits to start, having them start on day 1 of employment.   Ask – the worst they can do is say no.

 

When I accepted my current role I was told during my initial negotiations I would be eligible for a 9% increase after 6 months. That VP has since moved on from the company how should I address this with the new leadership?

I would contact HR about that – explain the situation and ask what the process is for getting the increase evaluated.   Even though you don’t have it in writing, you should be able to get an increase based on merit.

 

Can you negotiate with an offer if recently laid off/unemployed?

Absolutely!  Being laid off is almost never the person’s fault, and is something that most of us will experience at one time or another in our lives.  The key is to approach a new offer with confidence, which (again) comes from being able to communicate your value to a new employer.  Remember, just because your last company failed or chose to go in a different direction doesn’t mean that you have failed.  Even in a role that was eliminated, there are still opportunities for you to speak to what you have contributed as part of that team.  Use these points as a spring board to communicate to the offerer what you have to contribute to them as well.

 

Telling an employer you have another opportunity can also be interpreted negatively as an attempt to leverage or speed up the hiring process – how to negate this?

You’re absolutely right – telling an employer that you have other offers can sometimes be perceived as negative.  This is why we advise that you do not bring up another offer unless you are fully prepared to take the other offer if the employer you’re bargaining with will not meet you where you need to be (in other words – don’t just bluff!).  Also, be mindful of the way that you broach this subject – be sure to be polite, enthusiastic, and keep a positive attitude.  Having another offer in and of itself isn’t negative – being rude or off-putting when bringing it up, however, may very well be.

 

Don’t see your question up here?  No worries!  We’ll be following up this post with a second part later in the week that details even more questions submitted by you all, along with our expert answers!  In the meantime, if  you would like to schedule an appointment with a career consultant, remember that you can do so by calling our customer service line at 1.800.635.8944.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *