I’ve worked with several women on salary negotiations during the last year and I noticed that many make a big mistake: they name their desired salary way too early in the process and they don’t gamble. They name the amount they want to have straight away. Now there are several problems with this.
You limit your possibilities for negotiation if you tell them how much you really want too early. I know, it’s easy to get pressured into naming a concrete amount by HR or your boss but remember: once you’ve said the amount, you can’t go back anymore.
Consider that: if you tell them the minimum salary that would be ok for you and they offer you less, won’t you be unsatisfied with the outcome? And what if they accept the amount too readily? Won’t it make you feel like you asked for too little? Won’t you doubt if more would have been possible? Won’t you be unsatisfied as well?
A Range Is Better Than a Number
I really recommend that you tell them a range in which you are comfortable. The top should be your ideal salary and the bottom should still be above your minimum salary expectation, even if there is no bonus or further benefits.
You should also follow this advice if asked to indicate your salary expectation in a cover letter. I know that some companies specifically request that you indicate your salary expectations in the cover letter. You shouldn’t ignore that request.
It can be useful however to add a sentence explaining that your expectation is based on the knowledge you currently have of the company and position, that you’re a little flexible and that you will only be able to state your final salary expectation when you know more about the position and potential additional benefits, like bonus, etc.
Your Current Salary Is Irrelevant
This is a very important point: Never ever tell them your current salary when applying for a new job. Your current salary is for your current position – and maybe not even really reflecting your worth. Probably the positions, companies or industries aren’t even comparable.
Unless the positions are really identical within the same industry, there is no reason for your new salary to be based on the previous one. And even then; if your previous company didn’t appreciate your worth, you don’t want to continue on that path, right?
By sharing your current salary, the employer will simply add a small percentage on top, as if it was an internal raise, and expect you to accept it happily. If your goal is to take your career to the next level, your salary should also be taken to the next level. You can usually increase your salary less through a raise in an existing position than at a new company.
So don’t give up this advantage by telling the new employer how much you make at the moment. When I was asked this question, I simply explained that I was coming from a different industry and therefore my current salary was not comparable at all.
Then I reminded them of the benefits and value which I bring to the company. You might also argue that you’re coming from a different region or a different country – bearing in mind that there are often big differences.
Stand Your Ground
Many people don’t like negotiating; that’s not specific to women or men. But sometimes you have to, especially if you want to get the salary that you deserve. If you have ever taken a negotiation training, you will know that one of the basics they teach is to say “no” to any request at first.
So don’t let yourself be thrown off your game by an initial “no” from the employer. Especially in bigger companies, HR will be trained to properly negotiate your salary. So if you give in right away, you might be giving up a lot of money.
If they try to push your salary expectations, push back. Be prepared for a first “no” and don’t give in at the first attempt. Ok, you might need to budge a little at some point if you realize that there’s really no way of you getting your ideal salary, but don’t give in right away.
You most probably won’t get another chance for a pay raise too quickly and further salary negotiations will always be based on what you are currently earning since they will know that. So the higher your starting salary, the higher your salary down the line. There are of course possibilities to get a pay raise, so we’ll look at these in the next blog.