There are fewer things in your career journey that are going to strike fear and anxiety, and a desire to go and hide on the couch with a pint of Hagen Daas, than salary negotiation brings up for most reasonable people.
However, it doesn't have to be like that.
Negotiating a job offer is a very necessary aspect of getting a new opportunity and it doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't have to feel dirty. You don't have to feel like you need to take a shower once you're done. All you need to do is negotiate your salary and the job offer from an authentic place using the seven steps that I am going to lay out for you.
Step 1: Confirm You Want the Job
This probably seems extraordinarily obvious, but the vast majority of articles and blogs and videos out there actually don't mention it. You need to confirm that this is a job offer that you actually want to take.
Do you want to change some things about it? Probably, that's why you're here.
However, once those things are aligned, is this an opportunity that you're going to say yes to? What if you can't adjust those element during the negotiation, are they deal breakers? Knowing that at the outset is going to help you understand what your decision is as you move through. It's very easy for this to become emotional and for it to feel very personal.
The clearer you are on the fact that you want the opportunity, and that you're in fact eager to make this opportunity work out, is going to bring you a long way.
It's also important for your potential employer to know how excited and eager you are to get this offer into a state that you are super excited to say yes to it. This includes things like telling them how excited you are (I know, I know genius advice, no need to thank me). Even from a deep subconscious and energetic level, the more that you actually want to get to a place that you can say yes to the opportunity, the more the person that you are negotiating with is going to want to get you there as well. And when they're there, they're going to move mountains to make it happen. And that leads us directly into step two...
Step 2: Negotiate from the same side of the table
This is easily the biggest mistake that professionals make when they're negotiating their salary. They make it a me versus you.
"I have this offer doing X, I want you to do Y for me."
That's not how you're going to win.
Maybe you'll be successful in the negotiation, but you're sitting across the table from that person and it is going to be really hard for you to get onto the same side again. If you are joining a big company, there's a very good chance that you're going to be negotiating with a recruiter and that you are going to be distant from your actual hiring manager. However, that doesn't totally insulate the fact that a ruthless negotiation, which is very much pitted against you versus them, is going to create tension.
And any tension you create before you sign the dotted line is going to remain one the other side of the job offer contract singing.
Plus, if you're negotiating from the same side of the table, you're actually coming at it from their perspective. You're building the case for them of why they need to give you more money, more time off, more benefits, whatever it is that you're actually trying to achieve through the negotiation.
It's putting you onto the same team before you're officially a team member before you walk into it.
Step 3: Remember it's not personal
I know when you're negotiating your salary, your compensation, the money going into your bank account,- it's very easy for it to feel personal. How many times have you heard, or have you even said, you 'need to be paid what you're worth'?
I know this is something that I'm totally guilty of saying.
The reality is that you, my friend, are absolutely priceless. They can give you $1 million a year and they would still totally not reflect your value as a human being.
Valuing you is not possible. No company can actually meet that obligation.
What you're appraising through the salary negotiation process and through the job offer negotiation process is actually finding the intersect of your skills and experience, what you're bringing to the table, and what exactly they need. You're appraising from this .point in the middle where the two meet. If you're negotiating from anywhere outside of that cross-section, it's not generating a win win situation - and that's going to kind of miss the point.
The more that you can understand the fact that the company isn't making an offer based on you and your value, and that you're not fighting for your personal value, it's just simply a business transaction.
This also serves when the offer is far from what you need and you're not able to close the gap. Because it is an offer, and you are actually not fact required to accept it.
Also on this point, another mistake that I see made that I want to make sure you're not going to make, and I want you to walk into this fully prepared to not bring up these things, is I have heard in negotiations where people have made the defense of they have living expenses. Their rent is this much, their mortgages that much, they need to do these things.
But here's the truth: your personal financial requirements have nothing to do with the company or the compensation.
This is a really important differentiation and this is actually true if you're negotiating a job offer, and if you're negotiating an increase, at any point your career journey. Your personal requirements are actually not going to be the driver in any way to have the company give you what you're asking for. The driver to give you what you're asking for is going to be the market value.
Step 4: Know your numbers
Be intimately familiar with what you're worth (and by you, I mean your role), and be ready with receipts.
If you're following my advice, you already know that you need to begin any salary discussion with knowing what your numbers are. If you don't already know that and you need to deep dive, I highly recommend checking out my free masterclass - you absolutely need to take this to make sure that whatever you're negotiating for is a reasonable number.
If you're asking for something that is completely disconnected from what the market is going to pay for your skills. For example, if the average salary for what you do is $80,000 but you walk in and you demand $200,000 for no apparent reason - other than you feel like making $200,000, or you've read about someone online who is making $200,000 - that's not going to be the justification.
You need to do real research, and there's multiple places that you can do that.
You're going to actually do that research and that's going to give you the receipts that you need to go to them and actually make the argument.
In fact, the more that you actually know about compensation for your role, in your area, your expertise, and the unique skillset that you bring to the table, the more you're actually going to be able to educate them in terms of what compensation really is going to look like for them to get the person into the role that they actually need to fill it.
(And fingers crossed, that's going to be you.)
Step 5: Be confident
If you're not confident in what you're asking for, that's going to show up for whoever you're actually negotiating with. I have had clients who have been extraordinarily confident. They've asked for the top end of market rates and they've been given them. They've been thrown the money with little to no resistance, just because of the confidence that they had, and the fact that they were going to create such dramatic results, that it was well worth the investment of the company into them.
Step 6: Know the negotiation persona
We all have different personalities and different spectrums. Some people like to generate a win lose situation, where they win a new lose. However, there is also going to be people who want a lose/lose situation, a win/win or if they're okay giving up so that you can actually win.
Knowing the personality of the person that you're going to work with, how easy it is to get onto the same side of the table, and really what their goal is through the negotiation is going to help stage you for success in the conversation to get exactly what you want.
Step 7: Know what to do if it doesn't work out
I recently worked with a client who had made a salary request, which was quite honestly, completely unreasonable. It was bold, it was daft, and I'm so proud of her for asking for it.
But it really wasn't a reasonable request.
She still got the job offer, and it was at the very top end of the market. The offer that they actually made her was extraordinary. That said, she still tried to negotiate it up further, and I completely commend her because you never know unless you ask.
What ended up happening because they did make her their best and their final offer, and they were very candid with her as she embarked into the conversation, how they actually had calibrated her, where they actually saw her fitting in in terms of what the market was paying, and the fact that they had made her the last and final offer.
It was the due diligence of doing these things that allowed her to accept the offer with the utmost confidence knowing that she was getting very fair compensation, and she was going to be very well valued by the new company that she was joining.
On the flip side, if the company sincerely cannot match in their budget what your requirements are for a salary and your requirements for salary, hopefully you're guided by market, but let's face it, there are personal considerations that you need to take.
There may be reasons why you need to make sure that you're at a certain level. While your personal situation and financial needs are not relevant to the negotiation discussion, they are incredibly relevant in your decision on whether or not you are going to accept the offer.
If you decline the offer because of an unclosable gap, trust the universe; there will be more opportunities.
On the other hand, there are also going to be opportunities that no matter what, you're just going to say yes to them: It's a dream company. It's an incredible opportunity. It's something that's going to look amazing on your resume. Those might be things that you're going to say yes to, even if the salary isn't quite where you want it to be.
However, in general, what you want to make sure is that if it can't get to where you actually need to be, and you have the freedom of declining, that you do have the opportunity to walk away. And just because it's the best that a company can do, it doesn't mean that it's going to be the right opportunity.
You can use this as a tactic, but it's a dangerous one once - I call this option going nuclear option. It can be an extraordinarily effective negotiation tactic, in fact, I've used this myself on multiple occasions, with dramatic results.
This tactic should be used with extreme caution. Your answer actually needs to be no. When you say this, if you say no, if you decline an offer because the negotiation hasn't gotten you to where you actually need to be, they're not necessarily going to come back to you.
In most cases, they're not going to come back.
However, as you grow your skills as a negotiator, you will realize that certain personality types, certain situations, this can be something that actually turns it into your favor.
Either way that it turns out when you get to the point where you declined an offer because it's not at a point where you can say yes to it based on the criteria that you set ahead of time.
You need to be willing to, you need to be willing to walk away, and trust the universe is going to bring you another opportunity.
I know when you're looking for a new opportunity, it's likely because you need to make a move, or maybe you're in between roles. And it might not be a luxury for you to be able to say no, but when it is an option, do exercise it. And know that there is more out there.
With that I would actually love to know, have you ever declined a job offer? What happened next when you did? Let me know in the comments down below.