When you are in salary negotiations for a new job, the ideal situation is to get your employer to give you a number first. This way, you don’t inadvertently lowball yourself. But sometimes giving out a number first is unavoidable. So how do you know what is reasonable for a position? Here are a few tips!
Know when to give a number. Sometimes, job postings will ask for your salary requirements. They use this information to weed out people who are over-qualified (too expensive) or under-qualified (too cheap.) You don’t want to place yourself in either pile, so instead, say your salary requirements are negotiable. Then, once you’ve secured the position – and only after trying to get a number from them first – should you give them your requirements.
Find out what other people at the company are making. No, you can’t ask, but you can check out websites like GlassDoor.com and Vault.com, where people anonymously share their salaries. This is probably the most accurate way to get the correct figure, but keep in mind that your experience and responsibilities may differ from someone else with the exact same title. Use the numbers you see as simply a guide.
Find out the going rate for your position in the area. Often, you won’t find data for your particular position at the specific company you are applying to, but that’s alright. You can look at the going rate for your job in the area. Places which have higher costs of living, such as New York City, often have higher salaries than small towns. There are many websites that can give you a range for salaries in your area, such as Salary.com and PayScale.com.
Consider your experience. Are you seasoned in the field, or is this your first management position? If you’re a veteran, then you can ask for the higher range, but if you’re a newbie, you want to stick to the low end. Asking for a salary that is too high can hurt your standing with the company.
Remember, your previous salary is irrelevant. What matters is the going rate for your skill set in that area for this type of company. So don’t be afraid to ask for more – or expect too much — if the numbers that keep appearing during your research don’t match your last salary. If an employer asks about your previous income, you may want to consider keeping it under wraps if you are afraid it will adversely affect the number they give you. However, doing this can risk off-putting your new company, so tread lightly.
Always have a number in mind. Know what salary range you will request if you feel pressured to give a number. Make the bottom of the range the lowest you are willing to accept, and the top should be a bit above your (reasonable) goal for the salary. In the end, if they offer you the bottom of the range – or lower – be sure to evaluate the entire compensation package – benefits, bonuses, overtime, etc. – before making your final decision.
Bring your research. If you come armed with data that supports the number you are asking for, you’ll have more power in the negotiation. Most likely, you won’t need it, but it will make you feel more confident if questions come up.
The more you prepare, the better off you will be. Good luck!