After a long job search, it's natural to feel like you've reached the finish line once you receive a job offer. But what if the offer wasn't what you hoped it would be?
If the offer made was reasonable, you might worry that negotiating for more money or perks might make you seem difficult in the eyes of your new employer.
If you are a woman who lost her job or who had to leave it to care for your family due to Covid-19 or another crisis, you may fear that the offer will be rescinded and you'll be back to square one if you try to negotiate a better package. Don't fret.
Starting a new job is the perfect time to ask for what you want in a compensation package. Not only will reasonable negotiations not damage your reputation, employers expect new hires to negotiate.
In fact, in a recent survey, 36% of managers said they are more likely to negotiate a starting salary with new hires in 2021 than they were a year ago.
We have compiled a list of six tips for confidently — and successfully — negotiating a salary that meets your needs and expectations when you are starting a new role.
- Lead the discussion. According to Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management, studies have shown that people who make the first offer tend to be more successful in obtaining their goal compensation. By leading the discussion, you take the advantage in putting your needs, expectations and requirements on the table first. Don't wait for your employer to reach out about a promotion or raise — start the conversation when you believe you're ready to make the case... (On the flip side, it would not be appropriate to begin negotiations if you are a recent graduate or in a similarly junior position).
- Speak using "we," not "I." Because some women are hesitant to negotiate for fear of seeming too aggressive, it may help to negotiate from the perspective of what you will bring to the table if hired. This comes in especially handy if you are a woman with a unique or specialized skill set. Come ready with examples of how your work contributed to the growth and success of your past employers, and communicate in a way that indicates you are trying to meet your financial and career needs while also offering value and meeting the company's goals.
- Stay positive and be confident. Get yourself into a positive mindset before you walk through the door. Know what value you bring to the job and the company. According to the Harvard Business Review, people who have a positive affect demonstrate a greater level of flexibility and creativity in their patterns of thought, indicating that they are better able to think of other options or consider other avenues that offer a win-win situation. Being confident can also help curb some of the anxiety that comes with compensation negotiation, so make sure you're prepared.
- Watch your body language. This can be a subtle but powerful way to demonstrate your assertiveness without saying a word. Women tend to make gestures that make themselves smaller and less dominant, so be conscious of your posture and movements. Stand tall, walk confidently into the room like a leader and keep your face neutral —– being too "smiley" may cause others to take you less seriously. When making demonstrative gestures, use your entire arm to make low, broad movements that emphasize your physical presence and power.
- Offer alternatives. The Kellogg School of Management, which offers courses in negotiation, suggests that you offer a variety of ways for the company to meet your financial needs. That way, if your employer can't offer you your desired salary, you can still suggest a better benefits package, more paid time off (PTO), or built-in opportunities for advancement. By offering multiple options, your employer is more likely to agree to at least one of them, and this showcases your flexibility and willingness to find the best solution.
- Maintain professionalism. If you still don't get your ideal offer after many back-and-forth conversations, keep negative thoughts to yourself and opt to think about what you've already achieved in the negotiation. If you choose to take the job or accept less pay than you want, refrain from voicing your frustrations to your new employer and learn from the experience for next time.