Negotiating pay with a current or future employer can be nerve-wracking for many U.S. workers. After all, the outcome of the conversation not only impacts whether you accept or decline a potential position, it also sets a precedent should you decide to move forward with that particular company.
If you feel anxious about an upcoming conversation with your employer regarding pay, you’re not alone. Money can feel awkward to discuss, even though it’s an integral (if not primary) part of our careers.
Fortunately, most salary negotiations don’t live up to the overblown hype that many U.S. employees associate with it. While the word “negotiate” can seem intimidating to some, it’s completely possible to facilitate a respectful, constructive conversation with a potential employer that will leave both parties satisfied with the outcome.
The Great Resignation: Why Workers Are Calling It Quits
Considering that 40 million Americans have quit their jobs during The Great Resignation, it’s safe to assume that many U.S. workers are in search of greener pastures. Employees nationwide are seeking work that offers better pay, more opportunities, and a healthy work-life balance.
Negotiating pay can be daunting, especially if you’re transitioning from a hostile or discriminatory workplace in search of better treatment. Thanks to the last couple years of economic turmoil and uncertainty of COVID, it might be tempting to sign the next contract offered to you…but it’s important to resist the urge to accept the first option that comes your way.
This isn’t to say that the first offer won’t be “the one.” It simply means that committing to a new, stable, enduring career is worthy of your consideration.
5 Fresh Tips to Negotiate Your Salary After COVID
Job hunting is often stressful, especially in light of recent hardships created by the pandemic. Even if the 2020 pandemic never happened, it’s normal to feel the stress of financial uncertainties while seeking new work. After all, the bills don’t stop just because your job does.
Even so, it’s important to enter a pay-related conversation with a clear head. Take a breather, and keep reading to learn 5 tips for successful pay negotiation.
#1. Do your research before negotiating pay.
Like most things in life, it’s crucial to be prepared before you enter a negotiation. There are a few things you should know before discussing something as important as salary. Adequate preparation is essential if you hope to be persuasive, as any employer will fully expect you to ground your request in fact and reason.
Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the market value for the position you’re considering. This requires you to know:
- The current average compensation for the position
- How much employees are paid in your geographic area
- Any qualifications or certifications required for the role
- How your experience and resume compare to the average person in the job role today
- Any notable trends or fluctuations in that particular job or industry
How do you compare to the average worker in the position of interest? Do you have comparable qualifications? More or less experience than a typical employee in the role? Has the average salary fluctuated in recent years?
All of these are excellent talking points to prep for, as you can leverage concrete knowledge of the industry to your advantage. It’s important to back up your statements with sound logic if you wish to make a persuasive case for yourself.
#2. Know your worth, but keep an open mind.
There is a delicate balance between being assertive and flexible. In most salary negotiations, it’s critical for you to know where the line is, and do your best to avoid teetering too far in either direction. A simple but effective way to accomplish this is by acknowledging what “negotiation” entails in the first place.
It’s easy to go into pay negotiations with a “me-versus-them” attitude. It’s normal to feel apprehensive, as many applicants have had bad experiences with a past employer at some point in their lives. The Great Resignation was a time of reflection for certain employers, especially “big corporate” companies with a history of treating workers poorly.
Still, keep in mind that a negotiation isn’t one person meeting the demands of another, but a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. This means that both parties must participate in a two-way conversation in order to compromise and resolve the topic in question: your paycheck.
Going into a negotiation with an inflexible or rigid mindset isn’t beneficial for either side. Frankly, it’s often an outright waste of everyone’s time…including yours.
Discussions are a two-way street. While it’s good to know your worth, it’s equally essential to stay openminded and flexible, too. When both parties respect the “give and take” of negotiating, it can help level the playing field while making the conversation as constructive as possible.
#3. Don’t be scared to decline an offer.
In a perfect world, employees would seamlessly transition from the job they no longer want to the shiny new career they want—no gaps, no hang-ups, no snags. Alas, life is rarely so simple.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the time-sensitive nature of the dreaded job search. It’s okay to feel like you’re on unstable ground while job hunting. Whether you thrive under pressure, or the thought of all those “unknowns” makes you sick to your stomach, remember this: a new job requires you to accept the offer.
Even though most of us have mastered the art of concealing desperation and insecurity in interviews, these frantic emotions can cloud our perspective while job hunting. It’s easy to perceive a power divide between ourselves and a potential employer (after all, if everything works out, they’ll become your boss). In many cases, workers are surprised to learn how neutral the playing field is during the hiring process. You’ll be glad to know that this can take some of the pressure off.
The truth is that companies usually share the same goals as you. In the same way that you want to find a job that best suits your needs, employers are trying to find and hire employees that are best suited for their company. It’s that simple.
At the end of the day, both job seekers and employers are asking the same questions in slightly different formats. Many employers are trying to determine:
- Which candidate is the best fit for this role?
- Which candidate is the best fit for the overall company culture?
- Which candidate is most qualified to fill the position?
- Which candidate is most likely to be a long-term asset to the company?
- Which candidate brings the right combination of experience, personality traits, and knowledge to the table?
Making decisions from a place of desperation or impulsivity can cost you in the long run, or even prevent you from finding the right fit altogether. In the same way that a company can reject a candidate who isn’t the best fit, you can reject an employer that isn’t the best fit for you.
When negotiating the terms of your employment, remind yourself that it’s okay to walk away from an offer—even if that means “pinching pennies” for another week or two. For all you know, the perfect job is waiting just around the corner.
#4. Remember that pay isn’t the only thing you’re negotiating.
Obviously the purpose of negotiating pay is to reach an agreement regarding compensation. However, it’s critical to avoid overlooking other key details (knowingly or not) that could impact your decision. In some cases, non-monetary values can influence how an employee responds to a counteroffer.
Although pay is integral to any job offer, most of us are well aware it’s only one part of the package. Even if compensation is your top concern and primary motivation during your job search, there are other factors to consider when negotiating, such as:
- Included Benefits. From healthcare to life insurance, it’s important to know what coverages (if any) are extended to company employees and their families.
- Vacation & Sick Leave. Most employees are limited to a set amount of time off for illnesses, appointments, and travelling. Is vacation time paid or unpaid? Do sick days carry over from year to year? It’s important to ask these questions to know if a job will provide the work-life balance you desire.
- Maternity & Paternal Leave. Many American employers have changed their tune in recent years when it comes to accommodating expectant mothers and growing families. If this applies to you, it’s important to know what to expect.
- Retirement Plans. Does the company offer retirement packages? How do they compare to your needs or wants?
- Opportunities for Growth. Most people don’t like hitting a glass ceiling early in their employment. Where can you go from the position you’re considering? Are there ample opportunities to ascend further in the company? If not, do you stand to gain valuable experience that will help you achieve future career goals?
#5. Ask the right questions.
During a salary or pay negotiation, it’s essential to lay all your questions and concerns on the table. If not, you might end up kicking yourself for it later on. Besides, you know what they say: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.
The conversation isn’t restricted to a company evaluating you. Employees can also take advantage of that time to evaluate the company, too. Being vocal will help the negotiation reach a constructive end (and hopefully avoid any confusing detours along the way).
It’s okay to be direct and upfront while questioning a prospective employer. Assertive communication 1) shows a future boss that you know your worth, and 2) gives you a better chance to achieve the result you want.
Here are some good questions to ask during a salary negotiation:
- Does the company conduct performance reviews? If so, how often? This can give you a better idea of potential opportunities to earn a raise or promotion.
- Are there other opportunities to increase this salary? Most of the time, a salary amount is base pay. For example, many companies implement a bonus system or other incentives that enable employees to earn more.
- Is this salary amount open to negotiation? Unfortunately, there are some instances where a salary is non-negotiable, especially in larger companies where an immediate supervisor must report to a series of higher-ups above them. This might limit their ability to adjust starting pay or other employment terms.
If a company can’t budge on an offer that comes up short of your expectations, consider asking for a signing bonus or discuss other reasonable options to make up for lost value.
Employees Have the Right to Fair Compensation
At Polaris Law Group, LLP, we strongly believe that all U.S. workers have the right to a nondiscriminatory workplace that pays them what they deserve. Sadly, some companies attempt to give employees the run-around. These establishments are counting on workers like you to be unaware of employee rights.
That’s where we come in. Our passionate employment law attorney has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of wronged employees. From unpaid wages to wrongful termination, our firm is proud to advocate for the rights of American workers.
Were you a victim of wrongful termination? You deserve better. Our firm is here to fight alongside you until justice is served. Call (888) 796-4010 to request a free case evaluation.