There are many different ways you can invest. We usually think of things like stocks and mutual funds, but you can invest in yourself, too. One of the best ways to do so is negotiating your salary to ensure you’re earning what you’re worth.
Earning more is a powerful way to build wealth. While you can increase how much money you have to invest by reducing what you spend, you can only cut so much before you’re down to necessities. Your salary, on the other hand, is potentially infinite with the right negotiation techniques.
The best time to increase your salary is when you begin a new job, as future salary increases are all dependent on this number. Here are the best ways to prepare for and negotiate your salary before starting a new job.
How to Prepare
Preparing for a salary negotiation is much like preparing for an interview. You’ll want to research on the company, what projects they’re working on, and how you could improve the company in your capacity. Coming prepared shows you’ve done your homework, you’re willing to work hard and invest in the company, and you’re worth the amount of money you want.
You also need to do a little research around the salary you want. You’ll want to know average salaries in your field so that you enter negotiations informed.
Start your research by tapping the people you may already know. Reach out to your school’s alumni networks, or connect with people in your field on LinkedIn by joining groups. You can also contact industry experts or leaders you admire on other social channels like Twitter and ask for their thoughts or advice.
Finally, Glassdoor.com is good website to visit for an estimated salary as well as other employees’ reviews of the company you’re looking into.
How (and When) to Negotiate
When it comes to negotiating, it pays to not be first. Let the company be the first to offer a salary amount, and see how it compares to the research you’ve done and the salary you want to receive. If you put your number out first and are too low, it’s difficult — if not impossible — to go back and try to renegotiate. If you offer a number that’s more than what they can match and they decline, you’ll never know if there was room to negotiate beyond the salary.
If the employer tries to make you state a number first, politely by firmly request for more information instead of throwing out a number. You can say things along the lines of, “I’d prefer I discuss the best ways I can contribute to the company, and see if this is a good fit for both of us.”
Another good time to negotiate your salary is once you’re offered the job. At this point, you know the company wants you as part of their team. But even with a job offer, you still want the company to make the first salary negotiation. Again, it allows you to see how your expectation and their ability to match line up.
If they give you their “best offer” and it’s still below what you want, see if there’s room for negotiation elsewhere, like a flexible work schedule or more paid time off. Remember that your compensation can go beyond a paycheck.
How to Handle a Negative Answer
If a company is not willing to meet your salary request, keep in mind that you can negotiate elsewhere. See if you can negotiate more time off, a different title, tuition reimbursement, or other perks that will help sweeten the deal while still providing you a way to invest in yourself.
You’re still technically asking for more, but it’s not tied to numbers in your salary. The company may have some more flexibility to work with you on these requests.
Be gracious, but if the offer is simply lower than you can accept, be prepared to walk away. If there’s absolutely no way for the company to offer you anything else, including all the perks mentioned above, and you don’t think you would be happy accepting less, you can walk.
Before saying “no” immediately if the company cannot match your salary request or contribute additional benefits, think carefully on the following:
- Will this job launch you to a better position? If this job offers skills you haven’t learned elsewhere, but will be beneficial to your career in the long term, consider accepting it. Once you get enough experience in those skills, send out your resume for a better paying job.
- Is this one of your first jobs? If you’re just graduating from school, and the salary offered is enough to pay bills and having leftover savings, consider accepting it. As long as you’ll learn valuable skills, you may want to accept the job so you can get some professional-level experience on your resume before moving on.
- Do you genuinely like the company? While it can be hard to determine all of your potential coworkers’ personalities, if you get a genuinely good feeling from the company, consider accepting the job. Enjoying your job can be worth even more than salary.
Compensation Is More than Salary
Again, it’s not all about how much money you can make. If you value flexible time over a bigger salary, negotiate for that. Some business, especially in the public sector, are restricted on how much they can offer you. However, you can negotiate for telecommuting, a flexible schedule, or increased training opportunities.
By doing your research on both the company and a salary, you’re in a much better position to get the job offer and a competitive salary. Before you begin the job is the best time to negotiate the highest salary you can, so carefully weigh things like required skills, location, and other benefits.
While you’re likely to receive raises in the future, all of your raises are based on your previous salary, so start high and climb from there. Negotiating for what you’re worth is one of the best ways you can invest in yourself today.