How to Negotiate Salary for the First Time

Lidia Staron, author at OpenLoans
Lidia Staron   OpenLoans Marketing Manager
Personal Finance
I enjoy navigating people through important financial decisions.

Learn how to negotiate your salary.

Whether you're going after a new job or a promotion in your current company, you know that salary will be part of the discussion. The question is, will you be dictating the number or will they? According to a survey conducted by Salary.com, only about one-third of the respondents actually negotiated their salaries. Most didn't. In fact, 44 percent of them stated that they never even asked about a raise during a performance review.

Unfortunately for these people, failing to negotiate their salary is a costly mistake. In fact, experts believe that it can potentially cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. Don't believe us? Let’s talk specifics. Say you could have added an extra $5,000 to your starting salary if only you had asked. That means you lost an extra $5,000 during your first year with the company. That also means that every year after that, future raises would have been higher too. That's a lot of money on the table that you could have added to your bank account over the years. If only you had asked!

Of course, fear is a great motivator. In this case, it's a great "demotivator." A lot of us just don't know how to negotiate a salary. We don't feel confident or comfortable enough to ask for what we want. We're afraid to ask for more and get rejected. Plus, talking about money feels a bit taboo even in this day and age. It makes us feel awkward or embarrassed.

Well, fear not. That’s what we’re here for. We’ve rounded up some tips and tricks from experts on how to negotiate salary. Whether you’re after your first job or your fifth, this guide should help you get what you’re worth.

When To Negotiate Salary

Before we talk about salary negotiations, let’s first determine when you should do it and when you shouldn’t. What does that mean? Shouldn't we always ask for more? Didn't you just mention the cost of not asking? Ok, so we're not really backtracking here. But there are certain situations when negotiating your salary isn't the best step to take. On the other hand, you should also know how to recognize opportunities when they arise.

So, when to negotiate:

1. You have an offer in hand.

You have more power to negotiate if they really want you. So, if you already have a written offer, go ahead and ask for a salary that you'll be happy with (if they haven't given it to you yet). However, if they still haven't officially sent you a letter, don't play hardball and start asking for more.

2. You can show them how much value you're bringing.

You need to remember that the company wants you to help them achieve a goal or goals. This means that the salary they're willing to pay you is commensurate to how much "help" they're expecting you to deliver. Provided that they've already placed an offer in front of you, it's now up to you to show them that you'll be delivering more than what they're expecting. You need to prove that you're going to be worth the extra cash you're asking for. If you can do that, then, by all means, start negotiating. If you want to be a competitive candidate, you should invest in yourself. Consider applying for training, even if it’s expensive. For this kind of situation, online loans can be a good help for you.

When you shouldn’t negotiate:

1. You've already accepted the first offer.

It's happened to the best of us. We got so excited at getting the offer that we just jumped at it and signed on the dotted line. It was only later when some kind soul pointed out that you could have gotten more that you thought about negotiating a better salary. Unfortunately, that window has already closed. Asking them for more at this point is just going to annoy them. Worse, it could stain your relationship with your new employer. To avoid this, make sure that you never accept the initial offer out of hand. Thank them for the offer but tell them that you'd like to discuss it first with your partner or that you'd like to sleep on it. Before accepting any offer, count all your expenses: for example, bills or if you have to pay a personal loan online.

2. When you can’t justify it.

Don’t negotiate just because. If you can’t show them how much value you’ll be bringing to the company that’s worth the extra cost, then don’t ask for a higher salary. Pushing for more for no reason will just make you look greedy.

How to Negotiate Salary

1. Know what you’re worth.

If you want to get the salary you deserve, you better know what the going rate is for a person with your skillset and experience. If you are not confident with your skills and experience, it will be a good idea to sign up for some additional courses. Some of them can be paid, so you can consider personal loans with no income verification or borrowing from your friends and family.  You also need to consider the salary range for the position in your geographical area. You can't successfully negotiate if you don't have a number in mind.

2. Have a salary range instead of a figure.

Don’t give out a specific figure when you’re asked by a company regarding your desired salary. Instead, give them a range based on what similar individuals are earning in your field. This enables you to open up negotiations and successfully find a compromise you’re both happy with.

3. Don’t forget to include the benefits

When you're negotiating with a potential employer, you shouldn't forget that your salary is only part of the total compensation package. Don't make the mistake of focusing on just the dollar amount. Benefits are negotiable too. In some cases, a lower salary amount coupled with generous benefits can actually be worth more overall compared to a high salary with fewer benefits. Gauge the overall worth of what they're offering before giving a counteroffer of your own. And when you make yours, don't forget to include the benefits!

4. Be gracious

Don't be demanding or aggressive, regardless of whether you believe you deserve the pay you're asking for or not. No matter what their offer is or what the outcome will be, you need to be thankful for the opportunity and understanding of their perspective. You don't want to burn bridges if you don't have to.

5. Prepare a “brag” sheet

We already mentioned that you should only negotiate your salary if you can justify that you’re worth the extra cost. To do that, you’ll need to be prepared. It can be quite difficult to remember all the pertinent skills you’ve learned and achievements you’ve had on the spot. Can you imagine how frustrating it would be to think of the one thing that could have tipped negotiations in your favor after everything has been signed, sealed, and delivered? Think of this as your cheat sheet, one that will help you demonstrate your value to current and future employers.

6. Practice makes perfect

No one is good at negotiating salary right off the bat. You’re going to need to practice, practice, practice. That means writing down what you have to say, rehearsing it in front of a mirror, with a friend, or on video. You know you’re ready when you feel comfortable talking about the value you bring to any company and how much you’re worth to anyone willing to listen.

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