Tightrope Walking: The Dos and Don’ts of Salary Negotiation

salary negotiation

This is a guest post by Susan on Salary Negotiation. You can read the guidelines to guest posting at our write for us page.

I’d like to say that money is the last thing on our minds when we’re interviewing and applying for a position. Our careers should be about personal growth, contributing to something we are passionate about, and finding professional satisfaction.

But, of course, that’s not the whole picture. While during the job search process our minds are absolutely racing over what our job duties might be, what to say in our interview, and what the office culture might be like, money is likely one of the top things on our mind as well.

No matter how you boil it down, one of the primary aspects of having a job and starting a career is the money involved. Money is tricky. It’s a constant stressor in a lot of ways.

We think about car payments, insurance payments, phone bills, rent or mortgage payments, energy bills, and credit card statements so much that it’s easy for even just the thought of money to raise your blood pressure a little bit.

Knowing how to discuss and negotiate money and finances in a professional context is essential for the young professional. Your salary (obviously) plays an integral role in your personal finances, but tread lightly when negotiating pay.

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind when negotiating your salary with a future or current employer.

Do Your Research

It’s essential that you do research on the pay scale within the company, the average salaries of individuals in similar positions, and the financial needs you have personally before you approach the topic of salary with a new or current employer.

While researching the actual pay scale within a company can be difficult, there are many ways to gain an understanding of salaries within the industry as a whole. Look at recent salary surveys or try to talk to others working in the same field. You want to get an idea of what a reasonable salary is nationwide.

Talk to your trade or professional association to find out what other people are being paid for doing the work that you do. Salaries will, of course, differ by region, experience, and many other factors, but getting a general picture is always a wise idea. Before negotiating your salary, you want to be educated.

You should also take a careful look at your own personal financial needs and determine what your minimum salary expectations are. If you are negotiating a salary with a new employer, be sure that you do the math in advance and decide where your bottom line is. You should look at your monthly financial responsibilities carefully to determine what salary range is really ideal for your situation.

Make sure that you expectations are not too far-reaching. You should never base your career and professional decisions solely on personal financial needs, but you have those basic needs in mind.

Don’t Discuss Your Money Needs

While you should absolutely look at your personal finances before negotiating any sort of pay agreement with an employer, that does not mean you should discuss your personal money needs during the negotiating process. It’s not a reasonable line of argument to say “I need X amount of money for bills, insurance, living expenses, etc., so I deserve X salary”.

While this may sound like common sense, money negotiations can be a stressful thing. Know your own personal financial needs so that you can be sure you are accepting a salary that will actually work for your personal situation. However, you should keep the negotiations strictly professional. Provide your employer or potential employer with professional reasons you deserve the pay you are requesting.

If you can back up your request with solid reasons as to why you will earn that salary, you will be far more likely to obtain your preferred salary range.

Don’t Be the First to Make a Move

Discussing salary with an employer can be a narrow wire to walk. Particularly when you are a new employee to a company and you wish to discuss money matters, you need to tow that line gently. You don’t want to come off as only caring about the paycheck. Of course, your employer or potential employer understands that your salary is very important to you, but they want to believe that you are also there for the work that you will do (as you should be!).

Seeming too eager about salary and salary discussions can reflect poorly upon you as a candidate for the job. Be passionate about the work and your contribution to the company, not about how much money you’ll be making. Generally speaking, you should let your employer be the first to bring up issues of salary and pay. Be frank and upfront about your educated salary expectations, but also let the employer do much of the talking.

Explain that you are looking for a mutually rewarding career—you want to support the company and you want the company will support you (both financially and professionally).

About the Author

This is a guest post by Susan Wells. Susan is from insurance quote guide, she writes on topics including health/car/life insurance, mortgage, real estate.