Your application was perfect, you nailed the interview and your references were amazing. The highly-anticipated job offer you were craving finally comes your way and you realize that you never thought to ask about your salary. It’s the perfect job, except the money situation is looking bleak. Sound familiar? Instead of turning down the job offer that you wanted so badly or accepting an offer that doesn’t pay well, you have a third option – negotiate your salary.
I know, it sounds crazy. Especially if you’ve been searching high and low for a job with no luck until now. Let me be the first to tell you:
You’re worth the money.
I know it and the right employer will know it too. Even if they tell you that this salary is non-negotiable, it’s still worth negotiating.
I searched long and hard for my first job out of college. I hoped it would pave the way for my career. It took me many months of crying and rejection letters to finally get an actual offer.
The company was small and not well known. To me, it wasn’t the ideal place to embark on my path to success. However, they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: work experience in my field and a steady income.
How could I say no?
When the job offer was finally made, I looked it over and realized that we had never discussed a salary. This was my very first job, I was naive when it came to discussing sensitive topics like this.
I feel like most younger hires are naive when it comes to this topic because we’re just so happy to finally find a job.
Still, negotiating a salary is an important skill to develop early. I was able to successfully negotiate for a better salary before starting my first job and it was a decision I’ll never regret.
You can do the same, with the following methods.
Drop the health insurance
This is the method that I used to negotiate at my first job. I was only 22 and still on my parent’s health insurance plan. That is the only way this method will work.
Full-time jobs will offer you health insurance benefits that cost the company money to pay for. If you’re already on someone else’s healthcare plan (i.e. parents or significant other) you can use it to your advantage when negotiating a salary. Offer to drop your benefits for a couple more thousand dollars a year.
You can stay on your parent’s health insurance plan until you turn 26. If you’re married and on your partner’s plan, it can stay that way forever.
Proposing this idea raised some eyebrows around the conference interview table. After some consideration, the company decided it would save them a lot of money to agree to my terms.
I went from potentially earning money in the low $30,000 range to a salary in the mid to low-$30,000 range. Honestly, the extra hundred dollars in every paycheck went a long way.
Negotiate in person
Another factor that I felt worked in my favor is that I negotiated the salary face-to-face with my employers. It was during the second interview when they offered me the job and I said I really wanted to work here, but couldn’t accept the job with this salary.
Some of the hiring manager’s looked around at each other for approval because they weren’t expecting this. It ended up coming down to one woman for the final verdict who said she thought my proposed salary might be able to work, but would have to run the numbers first.
Asking in person is great because it doesn’t give the company time to come up with a counter idea to your request. It forces them to answer on the spot. Saying ‘No’ can be extremely difficult to say to a future co-worker’s face.
Ask for more than your original number
This is something I found out later and wish I had known about it earlier. Asking for more than what you actually want from a negotiation is a win-win situation.
There is always a possibility that the employer could say no to your request for more money. However, they might counter by offering a salary that is between the original offer and what you requested. This number will be close to what you actually wanted to be paid and you will have won the negotiation.
On the other hand, the employer might just give you the higher annual salary that you requested and expected not to receive. Win!
Or they could say ‘No’ to paying you more and in this case, you’re right back to where you started. Still, you won’t lose anything for asking.
It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes companies actually can’t offer you more money. Asking and negotiating will be the only way for you to find this out.
At the end of the day, you might finally land a job but need to turn it down because they can’t offer a high enough salary. That’s not your loss, it’s theirs. The right employer will offer you enough money from the jump without any negotiations.
Other employers that really want you to work for them will make sure it happens, even if the company doesn’t have the money to pay you more. I’ve heard about instances where companies counter-offer with more paid time off each year or with signing bonuses.
It can be to scary negotiate for a bigger salary for your job when you’re younger with less/no work experience. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort.
Remember: you’re worth it. You’re worth every cent.