For many job candidates, simply getting to the point of a job offer is three quarters of the battle, and a tremendous achievement. But don’t stop negotiating just because you are offered a job. Part of negotiating during an interview is ensuring you get a salary you are comfortable with from a potential employer. While not all salary offers are negotiable, many are. Make sure you have done your research on the going rate for your job, experience level and location to ensure you get the right salary.
Do Your Research
The first step every job candidate should take before accepting a job offer is conducting background research. Look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics' Occupational Outlook site to find out average salaries for the job you are interviewing for. Make note of factors such as your education level, the location you are working in, the size of the company, and the level of experience you have in the industry. If you are a recent graduate you might not be able to negotiate as much as someone with five to 10 years of experience. On the other hand, if the job is located in a city where the cost of living is very high, you will likely want to negotiate a salary that is higher than the national average for someone with your training and experience.
Another important step in planning for negotiations is budgeting exactly how much you need from a job to manage your expenses. If you receive an offer that will not meet your day-to-day or monthly expenses, then it doesn't make sense to accept the offer. Consider your living expenses and commuting expenses when negotiating. You want to have accurate and extensive data to present to the company to get the maximum salary.
Document Personal Achievements
When a hiring manager presents you with a preliminary salary offer, be prepared to market yourself. Don’t just start off asking for more money. First, outline your achievements in previous jobs and the types of skills you will bring to the employer. The hiring manager wants to know why he should pay you more. If you have additional training he might not have considered when calculating your salary, bring that to his attention as well.
Consider Bonus Incentives
Some employers might be willing to offer other forms of compensation that will meet your needs apart from just your base salary. For example, you might ask for a signing bonus for joining the company, or for stock options in the company. You might also ask for performance-based bonuses that kick in when you reach certain goals or targets. If you agree to this, ask the employer to clearly define your performance goals and find out whether your performance will be reviewed at six-month or 12-month intervals. Make sure you get this agreement in writing and that your goals are quantifiable so you can measure them appropriately. Be creative when negotiating salary so you can reach an agreement that is satisfactory to you and the employer.