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9 Steps to Successful Salary Negotiations

        posted by , February 01, 2013

So you've made it to salary negotiations.

You're close to your next job. The last thing you want to do now is mess things up. You can lose your offer by botching negotiations. Just as bad, you might spend your career wondering if you could have done better.

The biggest mistake most candidates make in salary negotiations is not to prepare.

These 9 preparation steps are key to negotiating a good salary.

1. Prioritize Goals

What do you really care about?

In many cases, employers are willing to put more on the table than salary. For example, job title and job level are important to some candidates. Once you're in a company, it can be difficult to achieve a new job grade.

Think about what you want to get out of the negotiations. Write your goals down.

2. Develop Objectives

Develop actionable objectives for the negotiations.

For example, develop an elevator pitch for yourself and plan to deliver it.

3. Identify Your Alternatives If Negotiations Fail

If you reject the job offer what are your alternatives?

Ideally you have a long line of job offers from other employers.

For many, candidates their best alternative to a negotiated agreement is staying with their present employer or seeking another offer.

4. Identify Your Bottom Price & Target Price

Never walk into salary negotiations without a firm bottom price in mind. You can think about your target price too but you may set that dynamically in negotiations.

The last thing you want from negotiations is to walk away with a salary offer that you can't possibly accept.

If you're happy with your current role and are in the job market for a better salary — what would you accept to leave your current position?

If you are looking for a strategic job because you want to change careers — are you willing to take a lower salary?

If you're unemployed and you have no other offers — are you willing to accept a salary slightly below market to ensure you get the job?

These are all personal questions. Be honest with yourself, what is the bottom salary you will accept?

5. Research The Other Side

In negotiations, information is key.

Research the role and the company.

Ideally, you'd like to know the salary ranges of your future peers. At a minimum you should understand why they want to hire you. Is it a key position? Are they desperate to fill the position or are they taking their time?

Another important thing to understand is the organization's job levels (e.g. in the offer they may mention that you're a "level 12", this is meaningless if you don't understand the organization's levels).

6. Prepare Your Case

Identify your case for your target salary. Keep your argument short, clear and compelling.

Identify the arguments the other side will likely bring up and prepare your counter-strategy.

7. Identify Your Hot Buttons

You don't want to become emotional in negotiations. Think about the types of things that you tend to get emotional about — your hot buttons. Go into the negotiations prepared to stay cool.

8. Know Whose On Your Side

Your agent may be most interested in sealing the negotiations. They may have little interest in maximizing your salary (even when their commission is based on that salary).

9. Strategy

Never walk into salary negotiations without a strategy. Salary negotiations are generally win-win — a few influencing strategies usually suffice. However, it's also important to be aware of adversarial negotiation strategies and diplomatic techniques.

This is an installment in the ongoing series of articles called how to win your next job.

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