Question: What are the best approaches to negotiating salary after you get a job offer? I’m afraid of giving a figure I’ll later come to regret, but I also don’t want to ask for too much and jeopardize my chances. How can I find the middle-ground? –J. McClain, Naperville, IL
Answer: A job offer sometimes feels like you’ve reached the end of a long (and tiresome!) journey. You’ve been reaching out to people for weeks, possibly months, and sending out numerous resumes and cover letters in addition to interviewing. Once an offer is presented, it can be tempting to take the salary and benefits package you’re given. Before you make a hasty decision, consider the “do’s” and “don’ts” of negotiating your salary to best reflect your worth and contribution to the company.
DO your homework. Research the figures and market rates of your position from reputable sources (e.g. industry associations and/or conversations with others in your field). That way you’ll come prepared with a desired salary range that you’ll be happy to accept from.
DON’T keep secrets. Divulge your salary history. Employers may want to base their offer to you from your previous position, however keep the focus on the salary you’d like to earn in the position you’re presented and remain firm, honest and polite.
DO consider the extras. Say the hiring manager can’t accept the salary you quote—before you decide to jump ship entirely, consider the extras you can leverage. Expensed transportation costs or flexible hours are often factors that would persuade a person to take a lower salary in exchange.
DON’T hide your concerns. Many times candidates are too thrilled about receiving an offer at all that they remain silent, not wanting to come off as disappointed that they didn’t receive the benefits package or salary they desired. The best practice here is to let the employer know of your concerns upfront and determine which are the most imperative so that you can work through them together.
DO stay confident! Maintain steady eye contact and a relaxed demeanor during the conversation; opening up with some personal details help keep the negotiation from feeling stale. Contrary to popular belief, employers aren’t trying to low-ball you and often appreciate that you’re passionate enough about the position to negotiate your value!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.