How to Counter a Salary Offer Appropriately

Every step of getting a job is important. Even if you do perfectly in the interview, you may end up failing to secure your final negotiations and get passed over for the job.

Many job seekers focus too much on everything leading up to the job interview and are caught off guard during a salary negotiation. If you are unprepared for a salary negotiation, then you risk underselling your abilities and end up working for much less than you are worth. Alternatively, if you are caught off guard and name too high of a price, then you risk undoing all your progress in the interview and may no longer be considered for the job.

Negotiating your salary is similar to a job interview. You want to demonstrate your skills and show how you value the company to get a better salary, but you are coming up with a fair number to benefit the company. Companies want someone who is willing to work as part of a team, so coming off as too selfish in a negotiation hurts your odds of being hired. It can be tricky, but there are some general tips to follow to help you with your salary negotiations.

Research Your Salary

You cannot negotiate your salary if you do not know what is fair for your position. If you pull a number out of thin air as a counter salary offer, then you are not only likely to be rejected but you also come off as unprofessional. Hiring managers want to hire someone who knows the position. If you cannot accurately name a fair salary for your position, then it suggests you lack experience in the position and makes your hiring manager question whether you are qualified for the role.

Before you go into a salary negotiation, look up similar figures for your job position. When you are looking up salaries, get as specific as possible. Try and find specific entry-level positions. If you find a salary much higher than the rest, then check to see if the salary is high because the position is for someone with several years of experience.

If you have additional qualifications outside of the base job requirements, then try and factor this into your price. For example, if you are applying for a job where you work with a team, then you may be able to negotiate for a higher price if you have management experience. Checking online for similar job positions is your best bet if you are unsure where to begin.

Give Yourself Time

Wait to negotiate your salary if at all possible. Some hiring managers may push for you to negotiate your salary right away at the end of a job interview. This puts you in a difficult position since you do not have time to do any research. It, additionally, puts your hiring manager in a position of power. You do not have the job yet, so you may not feel comfortable naming a counteroffer until you know whether you are seriously being considered for the position.

Related Article: Advancing in an Entry Level Job

It may seem like your hiring manager negotiates your salary right away to catch you off guard, but this is not always the case. In some situations, your hiring manager may be overly eager to fill the position, so he or she is trying to be efficient. There is no harm in asking to take an additional day or two to figure out a counterproposal. If your hiring manager is unwilling to give you time, then it may be a red flag he or she does not have your best interests at heart.

Do you have to make a counteroffer?

You do not want to treat your workplace negotiations like a traditional negotiation. In a normal negotiation, both you and the other party are expected to go back and forth on offers. The first offer is almost always made with the intent of being rejected for something else, only serving to set an initial price for the negotiation.

In the workplace, this is not always the case. Whether you are expected to make a counter salary proposal largely depends on the job and the company you are applying with. In most situations, salary negotiation only happens in higher ranked positions. These positions do not have as many applicants, so it is not as easy for your hiring manager to simply pick a different candidate if he or she is unhappy with the price you name.

Doing research helps you know whether you need to make a counterproposal at all. Some hiring managers do not enjoy negotiating salaries and offer a fair price right off the bat. Hiring managers may offer you a reasonable price if they are impressed with your resume. If you are happy with the initial salary being offered, there is no reason to make a counter salary offer.

Avoid Going Back and Forth

Another difference with salary negotiations compared to traditional negotiations is the amount of back and forth. In a traditional negotiation, it is common for both sides to list multiple prices before finally coming to an agreement. When you make a counter offer to your salary, you do not want to keep bouncing between numbers with your hiring manager. If your hiring manager accepts the first counter offer you make, then do not take it as a sign you set too low of a number and need to raise the price.

Ideally, you and your hiring manager only make a maximum of two offers each. Any more than two and you risk one or both parties growing frustrated with the process. Even if you are hired after the salary negotiations, your boss may have an unfavorable view of you as an employee.

Do Not Focus Solely on Starting Salary

When you counter a salary offer, you have more options than asking for more money upfront. Many companies are more comfortable accepting a counter salary when you show you are willing to earn a higher salary. Some of the ways you can counter a salary offer without simply raising your starting salary include the following:

  • Ask if you are eligible for a salary increase after a set period of time.
  • If you believe the company cannot afford to pay you more, then negotiate for benefits instead, such as additional time off.
  • Set conditions for a salary increase. For example, if you are planning to get an advanced degree or complete a professional development course, then ask if you can receive a salary increase upon graduation. This not only shows you want to improve yourself as an employee, but it also shows you are not planning on leaving for a new career after your additional educational training.

Related Article: Best Types of Questions to Ask an Interviewer

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