One of the comments I hear most often from executives is the struggle to negotiate their salary when the offer is presented. This is especially true for executives who have been unemployed for some time and wish to return to the workforce as soon as possible. Some think being too harsh when negotiating salary might jeopardize their job offer.
Let’s take a look at three mistakes you can avoid.
The first person who talks dollars loses. Generally jumping out with a salary figure before you have an offer could be detrimental to the outcome. The interviewer has you pegged at a certain salary that could screen you out quickly. Why? Because sometimes recruiters use salary as an “indicator” dictated by the company, and you can be eliminated if your salary level is too high or too low. If you cannot avoid a point blank question of salary at the onset of an interview, try these strategies:
- Turn the question around to the recruiter or interviewer and ask what the salary range is for the job. This will give you an idea if you are in the ballpark with your salary and if the range is lower, if you want to continue pursuing a position that may not meet your needs. Your response can be something like “My salary requirements are within that range. May we proceed with the interview and discuss salary when we determine there is a good fit?”
- If the interviewer insists on a salary figure before proceeding, then give a broad range to cover the high and low spectrum in the hopes that you are somewhere in the middle. If you research the job (salary.com, payscale.com, indeed.com, etc.) to find out what it pays, you can get a heads up on this range. This might keep you in the hiring process for a few more steps before anyone gets serious with an offer -- at least long enough to identify if this position is right for you and something you want to pursue.
Don’t discuss salary in a cover letter. I understand you don’t want to threaten your chances of getting an interview if you don’t relay your salary requirements. Some recruiters and hiring agents make it seem that you won’t be considered if this information is not presented. And that may be the case in some instances. However, if your resume shows that your talents and skills line up with what they are looking for in a candidate, you will likely be given consideration with or without stating your salary in the cover letter. If asked to include salary requirements in cover letter, try something like:
- “I’m happy to discuss salary requirements once we see if there is a good fit of my experience and skills to the position you are trying to fill.”
- “May we defer salary discussions until there is a possibility of a job offer? I’m sure once we identify if I am a good match, that salary won’t be an issue.”
Considerations other than salary. When in the depths of negotiations, be sure to factor in benefits such as healthcare, retirement contributions, paid time off, stock options, etc. Would one or more benefits outweigh certain salary limitations? Maybe a perk like working from home helps to sway your decision. Be prepared with your non-negotiables and your wish list and see what results you can achieve.
The highest negotiating power you have is when you are being hired. Leverage what you know as an executive who has negotiated for million to billion dollar companies to cover all relevant salary considerations. A wise person once told me “You have to ask for the business to get it.” If you don’t negotiate and ask for more benefits/perks, you may not get them. And that is something you will never know if you don’t ask.