Question: In salary negotiations, how do you determine the best place to start? I’m not sure how to find an acceptable price point or good salary to start from. What’s my worth? –A. Chatman, Chicago
Answer: More often than not, salary negotiations are an unpleasant affair. They’re wrought with anxiety that you’re potentially lowballing yourself or setting the number too high, in turn knocking you out of the running for the position. When determining the best place to start, it’s important to first realize that the conversation doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth! Some considerations during your negotiation:
The best way to start is through research. Find out how much others are making in the same position—industry sources and sites such as glassdoor.com are invaluable in getting a picture of what the average is for the role you’re in consideration for.
Through your research, you’ll more than likely come up with a range. Give the highest number in the range that you’re comfortable with that also matches your skills, experience and education (be honest here).
Avoid giving one number, as that can pigeonhole you and leave no room for negotiation at all.
Writing “flexible” with your range is advised, as it indicates that you’re not just looking for a specific salary for the sake of high earning potential.
Be sure that you’re truly comfortable with the lowest salary in your range in the event that you are offered that figure.
It’s smart to be prepared for some concessions—in other words, conversations between you and your prospective employer. There may be more than one so be sure to remain focused on your target salary (while leaving room for flexibility).
Always remain respectful! These negotiations can get contentious, so remaining level-headed and courteous is important to ensure smoother conversations.
Lastly, please keep in mind that in negotiating, you must take into consideration the entire compensation package (benefits, perks, room for growth, work environment) and the opportunity itself when deciding to accept an offer or not. Some things are just priceless!
With the right amount of research and preparation, salary negotiations can—contrary to popular belief—go smoothly and even exceed your expectations! Best of luck!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.