You’ve got the offer, you’ve got a great new wardrobe, and you’ve got butterflies about starting. The hard part is over, right? Think again. You still need to negotiate your starting salary. And that can be uncomfortable. Here is a guide to help you through the process and land the salary you want.

What is a Salary Negotiation?

Starting salary

Starting salary

Salary negotiations are a normal part of the hiring process. Sometimes a salary will be set from the beginning, and there is no need for further conversations. But often, discussions between you and your manager will take place so you both can feel good about your pay. So don’t fret if you have some back and forth on the matter.

How hard you push back will depend on several things. If you’re in a position of choosing among several job offers, you’ll feel more secure in negotiating for what you want. Being prepared can make you feel more confident as well.

Would you like help negotiating a salary or improving your negotiation skills? MassHire Cape & Islands Career Center is a career services agency on Cape Cod. Visit us or call our Cape Cod career center at:
MassHire Cape & Islands Career Center 508-771-JOBS (5627)

Be Prepared

Explore the average salary for your line of work. There are a variety of websites out there that list the pay ranges for similar jobs. But remember that not all locations are the same. Be aware that a receptionist will get paid more in a city like Boston, than in Springfield. It depends a lot on the cost of living, as well as the demand in any given location. Being familiar with these salary ranges can get you in the ballpark when you begin discussions.

Know what you’re worth. Feel good about your work experience and why you would be a valued employee. What do you bring to the table that makes you deserve the higher end of the listed salary range? If you’re just starting out, point out some soft skills that would help you negotiate.

The Numbers

When thinking about your salary, figure in compensations that don’t show up in your paycheck. Are the health benefits worth a great deal? How about paid vacation days or parental leave? Find out if the company offers a 401K or other type of savings plan. Many companies will match your contributions. You might even be able to get tuition paid for if you further your education. If you figure in the costs for these kinds of benefits, it could add up to quite a bit.

Talk to your manager about the policy for getting bonuses or end of the quarter gifts. Some larger companies pay out huge bonuses that tack on thousands of dollars to a yearly salary. Even a small amount can put you right into that sweet spot you were hoping for.

When discussing numbers, it’s better to initially come up with a salary range rather than a set number. People always want to feel that they have wiggle room. Having a back and forth conversation is a lot more productive when you have some space to work with.

The Salary Discussion

The Salary Discussion

Another thing to think about is your work/life balance. Is a shorter workweek, or the opportunity to work remotely worth something to you? Gaining these advantages are all part of the negotiation process. Don’t discount them. They, too, are valuable assets. Even though they don’t have an obvious price tag, they could be extremely valuable to you in your day-to-day life.

The Salary Discussion

As eager as you might be, try not to accept the very first number thrown at you. (Unless, of course, it meets your dreams.) It’s perfectly fine to listen, take it in, and let them know you’ll get back to them in a day or so. Have a counter offer in mind when you return to the conversation.

Be nice. You have already passed the interview process and you know that they like you. Even though you should show confidence, do it nicely. Be respectful, not demanding. Show appreciation. Being sincere and gracious can go a long way.

It’s a common practice to give raises and pay increases based on your starting salary. That’s one of the reasons to make your beginning salary pretty substantial. Find out about the company’s pay raise policy. What are the promotion opportunities and how do they measure success?

On the Job

Once you’re settled into the job, never lose sight of getting paid what you’re worth. Proving your abilities to your boss and taking on new challenges and responsibilities could very well lead to another negotiation. If your manager feels that you’re not ready for a pay raise yet, listen closely to her suggestions. If you are clear about what it would it take, then you’re off and running to make that happen.