During a job search or in an established position, when it comes time to negotiate your salary, do you know your worth? Salary negotiations can be stressful and confusing even for talented, experienced executives who work at managing their own careers. How can you gauge your worth and get comfortable negotiating for the compensation you want and deserve? Are you overqualified for this job or your current salary? Are you compensated correctly? Start with a little research.
Know the industry average for compensation for your job title. There are plenty of websites out there, including government sites that offer labor statistics and average salaries for various industries and positions. There’s no need to pay for the information, it’s all out there for free if you look around. So now you have a ballpark idea of what your peers are paid. Consider your level of experience, what other skills or background is needed for your position, and what value you bring to the table in soft skills, connections, and other intangibles. This not only gives you a good understanding of where your salary range should be, but this process helps you develop solid talking points about your worth.
Once you have a good idea of what you are worth, the next step is to get more comfortable negotiating. A colleague of mine, Jack Chapman, has built a career around teaching people to negotiate their salaries. His website includes a free quiz about the myths around negotiating your salary, and his book is worth a read, too. Some sound, simple advice from Jack:
- Do not discuss your current salary, or your preferred salary range during interviews; wait until the job is offered. Your level of expertise or experience during the interview can change the intended range. Don’t place artificial limits or risk being eliminated based on premature discussions.
- Every job can include negotiations. Even in government jobs where the pay band is set in stone, perks are negotiable and can make a big difference in job satisfaction.
- Do be honest about your current salary, bonuses, and perks with recruiters. They cannot find the right fit for you without that information. They also have some influence on the expectations of their clients. “I have the perfect candidate who may be worth more than you were planning to pay, I think they’re worth interviewing for this position.” These words can be a game-changer during a job search.
Next, practice your pitch. Using a mirror, a trusted friend, or spouse, practice selling yourself and your experience, talent, expertise, and skills to a decision maker. You’ll gain confidence around your worth, and get more comfortable singing your own praises. This can lead to a higher salary in the end!