When you open a salary discussion with the question “Is it negotiable?” you’ve weakened your position out of the gate by implying that you’d accept the salary even if it isn’t negotiable. You’re better off assuming that everything is negotiable. Prepare to open and close your next salary conversation strong by watching my course Negotiation Fundamentals, and Valerie Sutton’s course Negotiating Your Salary.
Here are a few tips that you can use when approaching your next salary negotiation:
First, determine your fair market value using salary research tools such as salary.com or payscale.com. Next, prioritize each element of your compensation package so you’re clear on exactly what you need, and what you’re willing to concede. Now it’s time to negotiate.
Negotiations are made up of offers, counteroffers, and concessions. You really only need to know two key numbers: your target number (your ideal salary) and your reservation point (the lowest salary you’re prepared to accept, or your walkaway number).
Let’s assume that your negotiation partner offers $75K for your dream job, and your research and preparation set you up with a target of $90K and a reservation point of $80K. In this example scenario, here are two possible ways the negotiation process might unfold.
Counter offer with your target
You counter the offer with $90K, and your partner counters again with $82K, basically splitting the difference. You then concede $4K and counter with $86, and your partner agrees to split the difference again by offering you $84, to which you agree. You’re below your target, but $4K better than your walkaway number.
Counter offer above your target
You counter offer for $95K, and your partner counters with $80K—a bump up of $5K. You match that by conceding $5K and counter with $90K. Your partner splits the difference and offers you $85K. You split that difference again and offer $88K, to which your partner responds with an offer of $86K. You say yes. You’re $6K above your reservation point, and only $4K from your target.
If these scenarios make your head swim, don’t fret—research has shown that the more give and take that occurs during a negotiation, the happier the parties tend to be with the outcome. Be sure to watch the following free movie from Negotiating Your Salary for more advice on evaluating the salary offers presented to you.
Best of luck on your next negotiation!