Possibly the most stressful part of a job interview comes when the interviewer sets down their pen, looks you in the eye, and asks, "So, what are your salary requirements?" At that moment, you know the interview has gone well, you've said all the right things, they've said all the right things, and the job is yours—if the price is right.
Most applicants low-ball themselves. They don't want to look greedy and they worry that competing applicants will have asked for less. So in result they sell themselves short, and, of course, employers readily snap up the bargain. To make sure you get what you're worth for your next job, you need to convey exactly how valuable you are. Worry less about not getting the job and let your potential employer worry about losing the value you bring.
Give Them What They Want
Bill Adler, author of How to Negotiate Like a Child, says the key thing to remember about salary negotiations is that "not every negotiation with a company is exactly businesslike." The people who will decide what to pay you are not motivated solely by business concerns; they have their own interests at stake. They want to look good to their superiors, impress their colleagues, and feel good about themselves. Your job, then, is to make them feel like winners, no matter how much you agree on. That means you have to prove that you're worth everything you're asking, or better yet, that you're worth more.
Communicate Your Worth
According to Malcolm Munro, career coach who has helped hundreds of clients negotiate higher salaries, there are only three ways you add value to a company: 1. You solve problems effectively. 2. You make or save them money. 3. You build or sustain relationships. Everything you do or say in an interview should reflect how you will do those three things for your new employer. Be as precise as possible and explain exactly what problems you have faced, how you addressed them, and what the bottom-line benefit was.
Paint The Picture
Your goal in a job interview is to demonstrate how your particular skills, talents, and perspective will make their company stronger. Once you've explained what you've done, show them what you intend to do for their company. Lead them to imagine the golden days ahead, with you on the job.
Do your research before the interview. Know the industry salary averages for the role you're applying for, find out everything you can about the company you're applying for, and learn about their competitors. You want to ask many questions during the interview, too, as you want to gain as much information as possible before negotiations even start.
Don't even start discussing salary until you're sure they want to hire you. Until you know the job is yours, sidestep questions about your desired salary with a simple "I'm open." Make sure the employer feels they have something to lose if negotiations fail, not you.
Never say exactly what salary you desire. If pressed, give a range of salaries. Offering the industry average up to about 20% more is a good range to start with. Too far below the industry average, and you appear less valuable. Too high, and you'll price yourself out of their budget.
Don't Be Overeager
Once a figure is on the table, t_ake your time to chew it over. Don't jump at the first number they throw out. Doing so will make them think you would have accepted less. Give them time to imagine you saying "No." If you've done a good job of demonstrating the value they gain by hiring you, they're not going to want to risk loosing you over a few pennies.
Stick To Your Guns
Be prepared and willing to walk away should the offer come in below your desired range. You won't do any good by taking a position that doesn't pay what you're worth and eventually you won't feel motivated to continue. If it's clear that losing you will cost them more than a higher salary, they'll raise the offer. And if they don't, you'll both be better off because you can sign on with a company where your value is recognized for what it is.
Remember, stay confident. If you follow this advice, there's no reason to fear salary negotiation. No matter how badly you want a job, every company you apply for also has a problem they need solved, and they need you to solve it. As a friend once told me, "The most important thing is attitude. Be convinced that you really are an excellent deal for the company." And if you've got that down, the rest will follow.