Activate your Spidey Senses During Salary Negotiations!
Updated: Oct 11
What Hints Can Help Your Salary Negotiation?
You've passed the interview gates and it's time for the "salary requirements discussion". I'd suggest that the first thing you do is activate your 'spidey senses! Really zone in on the salary conversation and pay close attention. Listen and watch carefully for the interviewer's body language, cracks in their voice, nervousness, stuttering, or looking away. Get a feel for the tone of the conversation. Does it feel like the company would meet your requirements? Are they too enthusiastic? Are they giving you negative body language or nervous sounds? After the discussion, write all the details down. When the offer letter comes, hooray! Then sit down with the offer and consider a few observations:
Large companies in urban areas may be quite open to a counteroffer (especially in a competitive job market)
Industries like not-for-profits and government agencies generally have less wiggle room for negotiations due to much tighter budgets.
Small companies in competition for talent may be open to more creative solutions like one-time bonuses. This type of bonus gives the worker a performance incentive and the company only pays a single bonus rather than across the term of employment.
Very small companies without HR departments may not have established guidelines for salaries. This could result in wide variations in offers, bonuses and opportunities for negotiation.
Many companies will often 'split the uprights' by responding with half of the increase in your counteroffer.
Think back to your salary requirement conversation. Remember, you used your spidey senses!
If the offer is higher than your request, consider countering with a small or no increase request at all.
If the offer is exactly within the range of what you asked for, consider negotiating a healthy counteroffer. If the requested salary can be easily met, many companies will agree with the hope of saving money on a counteroffer. Why should they offer more?
If the offer is slightly lower than your requested salary I would still consider it a healthy counteroffer.
If the offer is much lower than your requested salary, ask yourself if you are overqualified or if the company has tried to lure you in with promises they did not intend to keep (also called a 'bait and switch). Would you want to work for a company like that?
If money isn't an issue or there is no wiggle room for a higher salary, negotiate for other perks that are important to your, your family, or your work-life balance. Here are a few ideas:
Equity/stock options (startups!)
90 day one-time bonus
Work from home or hybrid work
Vacation or Unpaid time off
Job Title (they can OFTEN change!)
Flexible schedule for start/end of the day
Signing bonus (you can time it with a 90-day review)
Parking or travel reimbursement (big cities are expensive!)
Delayed start date
Take into consideration the vibes you got during the salary discussion. HR departments are usually very open to salary negotiation discussions. Re-look at the competitive market research you previously did for similar companies and jobs. My experience is that reasonable companies will try and meet your offer but also stay within company guidelines and not upset the "apple cart" by making your salary higher than other similarly experienced employees.
Everyone's experience is different, as is every company. At the very least, you were offered the job! Being told 'no' to a counteroffer isn't personal, it's just business. Successful salary negotiation for a higher starting salary (or perks) is the cherry on top of the new job sundae.
Have you ever gone through salary negotiations? What was the result? I'd love to hear from you and chat about your experiences. Follow me on LinkedIn and click the bell icon on my profile page to be notified of my career posts.
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