Negotiating is part of life. Some people love it; others hate it. However, to succeed financially, you need to know how to negotiate—especially when it comes to your starting salary.
Often, your first opportunity to negotiate will be when you land your first job. In this instance, it's easy to be so excited they want you that you take whatever salary offered. Don't fall into this trap! Asking for better compensation is not being greedy—it's being financially savvy.
Here are eight need-to-know negotiation tips to help you do this:
1. The Only Way To Get Paid Is To Ask!
It can be scary to ask for money, but feel the fear and do it anyway. You will never get paid more unless you initiate the conversation. If you're volunteering to build up your résumé, that's fine. However, if you do this long enough and demonstrate enough value, it won't hurt to ask for a salary. Put a limit on your "free" time.
2. Know What The Job Pays.
At a minimum, before entering a salary negotiation, conduct some market research to determine what others doing a similar job earn. Websites such as Monster.com and Salary.com provide this type of information. You may eventually agree to a salary higher or lower than average, but this research will give you a range to start with.
3. Know Your Value.
Now that you know what the market will bear, figure out how to articulate your value to your future employer. Companies pay for the value or return on their investment you bring to them. This may be how many products you can sell or what type of expertise you bring to the team. Prepare these in advance so you can easily demonstrate the monetary value of your contribution to the company.
4. People Negotiate Down, Not Up.
In other words, start with a high salary and then negotiate down. Otherwise, you will wish you asked for more or wonder if you could have been paid more. And don't worry if your initial number is way off from the company's. They may have lowballed their offer in anticipation of a negotiation. So long as your number is based on objective criteria (see tip #2), you'll be OK.
5. Don't Be "NICE" With Your Price.
"NICE" stands for naïve, intimidated, cautious, and emotional. Pricing yourself is an art, but it is based on some science. Educate yourself about the different ways to set a price your services. Do not be intimidated to ask for what you are worth. Refer back to tip #1.
6. Money Talks, So Listen.
If you needed a lawyer to get you out of a jam, would you rather have the $500/hour legal counsel or the $150/hour one? The more expensive one, right? People tend to assume someone with the higher fee is more skilled. This may or may not be true—but coming in with a high price communicates something about you and your expertise. (Just be sure you can back it up!)
7. The Power Of "Maybe."
Never give a final answer during an initial salary negotiation. There is great power in saying "maybe." Use phrases such as "I want to give it serious consideration. Can I let you know by Monday?" or "You have raised many good points, and I want to make sure this deal works for both of us. Let me sleep on it and get back to you in the morning." The time and space away from the negotiation allows you to check in and see if the offer is a good one for you. And if they say "no" to your "maybe," then it may be time to look elsewhere anyway.
8. Silence Is Truly Golden.
When in doubt, be quiet. This can be hard to do in a stressful situation like a salary negotiation, but it's a great negotiation technique. Silence makes people feel anxious. If they talk to feel more comfortable, they may end up negotiating against themselves. So, count to 30 in your head, and let the other person speak first—you usually get a better deal.