Negotiating Your Salary

by Jon Dulin

Negotiating your SalaryWith unemployment still sitting around 9%, many people who are offered a job take it without hesitation. My advice is when you are offered a job, make a counter-offer on the salary. In other words, you need to start negotiating your salary. Why? Because it is in your best interest. (This post show you how.)

Most all jobs have a range for salaries. It should not surprise you that most companies will start you off at the low end of that range. You are not proven to the new company yet. But this does not mean they will not pay you more than they are offer you at first. Do not be intimidated. The human resources representative deals with salary negotiations all of the time. The worst they can do is say no.

Benefits of Negotiating Your Salary

You may be asking, what is the real benefit of negotiating your salary? The benefit is more money. A lot more money. Take a look at the graph below (clicking on it will enlarge it). It depicts two starting salaries: the red line is a starting salary of $35,000 per year. The blue line is a starting salary of $40,000 per year. As you follow the lines, the difference doesn’t seem that big. But here are the numbers: In 25 years, the person that started off making $35,000 per year is now making just over $71,000. Not bad. The person that started off making $40,000? They are currently making just over $81,000 per year. (Note: I am not accounting for inflation, just a 3% annual raise for each employee.)

Negotiating your Salary

The difference is $10,000. Big, but not earth shattering. If we look deeper though, you will see the larger issue: Over the course of the 25 years, the person that started off at $40,000 per year ended up making a total of over $182,000 more than the person that started out at $35,000.

By not negotiating your salary, you are giving up $182,000 over the course of 25 years. All you have to do is ask. Is it worth $182,000 to you to ask for more money and give negotiating your salary a chance? I hope you answered yes.

Final Point on Negotiating Your Salary

  • When counter-offering, you cannot simply make a number up out of thin air. You have to have an idea of the salary range for your position and a reason why you deserve more money. You can go online to get an idea of salary ranges for your position.
  • What I tend to do is determine what my ideal number is. Then I make a counter-offer a little higher. The employer comes back usually somewhere in between, which is close to my ideal number. For example, let’s say I was offered $40,000. I want to earn $42,500. I will begin negotiating my salary with $44,000. In most cases, I end up close to the $42,500 I wanted. Sometimes, I’ve gotten lucky and had my counter-offer accepted.
  • If you counter-offer and do not get what you want, ask to meet in the middle and then have a review of your performance in 6 months with the opportunity to get a raise then. (This worked for me)
  • Lastly, don’t be afraid of negotiating your salary. It isn’t a scary thing. Simply tell them you think you would really enjoy working for the firm as you see a great fit, but you need more money to make it work. Then ask if they would consider hiring you for $XX,XXX per year. They will tell you that will talk it over and get back to you and you go from there.

 

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Rhodes February 20, 2013 at 3:42 am

I know quite a few companies that really take advatage of those who don’t negotiate, I can’t stress how important it is to let them offer first then come back with a counter offer!!
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moneysma February 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Always come counter-offer off of their first offer!

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MoneyAhoy March 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

This is going to be coming up for me soon as I’m looking to take another position internally in my company. I’m nervous about asking for more, but ready to give it a go. As you pointed out, it really does add up over the long run!
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Jon Dulin March 31, 2014 at 1:51 pm

When I first started working, I kept a spreadsheet of my annual salary and what my percentage increase was each year. I then looked at where I would be at if I was just getting 3% annually. It was amazing. It would have taken me an extra 10 years to make what I am making now if I hadn’t asked for more.

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mrs winter July 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Really interesting point, as often articles on negotiating talk about people who are already working; I think the fear is that by asking, the employer might turn you away altogether (even though that seems irrational).

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Jon Dulin July 2, 2014 at 8:07 am

I think the only time they will turn you away is if you are asking too much or aren’t flexible. You have to know what you are worth and what the typical range is for a given job.

When I started a new job, the salary wasn’t as much as I thought it should be, so I negotiated. I got turned down for the amount I was looking for, but the firm met me halfway and then agreed to a 6 month review and the potential for the other half.

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