So many people avoid negotiating their salary and take whatever is offered because that's the most comfortable thing to do. But that’s not the best approach. I encourage you to go beyond what is comfortable to help you realize the benefits of speaking up and asking for what you deserve. I've coached several people through successful negotiations using the tips below. It's very effective, and I'm excited to share it with you here!

The first step in approaching a salary negotiation, or a raise in your current role, is research. You have to know what the job is worth. This is what helps to give you confidence in the discussion. This is where job seekers are at disadvantage. Companies, and larger ones in particular, can purchase access to salary surveys. This means they participate by sharing the salaries they pay and then, in turn, see what competitors are paying for similar jobs.

Benchmarking salaries is probably more complicated than you probably think. There are so many factors they have to consider making sure it’s a fair comparison. In fact, here are just a few of the criteria: location, experience level, education level, company size, and simply their budget and ability to pay. And, just because a company knows what competitors pay, doesn’t mean they can or will pay that. Sometimes smaller companies just don’t have the resources to compete, so they try to make up for it with other benefits and perks. Or, some companies intentionally pay above the market average as a way to get new talent. But then oftentimes they have demanding cultures and work you to death because of it.

Let’s learn how to price a job out in the market so you know if you are in the right ballpark or not. There are several online resources that you can go to. The most famous one, of course, is Glassdoor, and there’s as well. These resources are fine but what I'm going to advise you to do is vary your sources. I would not rely just on Glassdoor or Whenever you are doing research on anything, it’s always a good idea to cross reference your information. You can also try LinkedIn's new salary insight feature if you pay for Premium.

Once you’ve gone to several places, if you start seeing the same number over and over again,  you can feel confident that you’re in the right range. But here’s one more place that you probably didn’t think to consider: your personal network. Here again is where I’m going to emphasize the importance of connecting with more than just Wi-Fi in your job search, but actual people.

If you know someone who is in the position or the line of work that you are applying for, ask them for guidance. And this doesn’t mean that you have to ask them for their salary, of course. Here’s how the conversation might go:

“Hey Suzy, I was hoping you could help me. As you know, I'm applying for jobs as an Executive Assistant and I’m not sure what salary range to ask for. I know that you have experience in that field. Based on the research I’ve done online, I’m planning on asking for about $65,000. Am I on the right track?”

Prior to any negotiation, I want you to determine your personal desired range by focusing on these three numbers:

  1. Your Ideal Number (This is the highest possibility that you are hoping for. Your best-case scenario. It’s not necessarily what you think they’ll pay, but you’re going to try anyway.)
  2. Your Target Number (This is the most realistic possibility that’s right in the middle range. This is the number that you are actually trying to get when all is said and done.)
  3. Your “Deal Breaker” Number (This is the lowest salary that you will accept. You’ll still accept the job for this amount, but this is where you draw the line.)

Here are a few final tips:

  • Companies will expect you to negotiate. Most employers fully expect that you will negotiate your salary. They will probably be surprised if you don’t. Remember that this is process is completely normal. They aren’t going to revoke the offer just because you negotiated more money. Truly, the worst that will happen is they’ll simply say “sorry, but that is the best we can offer.” Then you just have to decide if you still want it.

  • Consider the total compensation package. If they can’t meet you on salary, ask them about other benefits such as time off, telecommuting, etc. There’s more to a compensation package than just the base salary, so be sure that you are considering everything. Sometimes when companies can’t compete on salary, they offer other perks and benefits to make up for it. Additionally, if any of these other benefits are less than what your current position offers, use that as a negotiating point for the higher salary. For example, if they offer less PTO or a smaller 401K match, mention that as a reason for trying to negotiate that extra $5K in the base salary.

  • Negotiate a 90-Day salary review. If all else fails, and the employer truly cannot (or will not) provide the salary you are looking for, but you want to accept, there is one more option that you have. Ask that there be a 90-Day performance evaluation with salary review. This means that you’ll sit down with your boss at the 90-day point and do a formal review of your performance and review your salary again. If they agree, be sure it is written into the offer before you accept. Some companies do this automatically. I think that’s a sign of a good culture as well if they do 90-day reviews of their new hires.

Want more help on this subject? Hear my podcast on this topic for even more tips! 
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