Looking for a new job involves many considerations. Day-to-day duties, the location, benefits … they’re all important. But if we’re being honest, everything comes down to money at some point.
There are serious misconceptions about when and how to negotiate salary with a potential employer. If consider salary.com as gospel, you may feel entitled to go in demanding anything and everything. Sure, this works for a lucky few. But chances are if you go in dollar-guns ablazin’, you’re likely to get shot down.
Who Has the Upper Hand
Negotiating comes down to one thing: leverage. What do you, the candidate, have that the employer doesn’t? Or does the employer have something you want or need?
The biggest point of difference when considering leverage is whether or not you’re currently employed. The gainfully employed candidate has an obvious upper hand. They don’t need a job and can use their current salary as a bargaining tool to get a better salary.
If you’re in the unfortunate position of being unemployed, you’re seen as having more flexibility. Realistically, you might have to take the first job that comes your way. And employers know that. But it doesn’t mean you can’t use some tricks to negotiate.
Make Them Pass You the Ball
Timing makes all the difference to landing that higher pay grade. Let the employer make the first offer, leaving the ball in your court. If you’re employed, you can walk away if you don’t like the offer. But don’t demand the world. Unless you’re the only ambidextrous, tri-lingual application developer in the city — aka niche — a company will likely have other options. Basically if you’re a candidate diva, they might walk away.
The Other Offer
If you’re unemployed, you might ask yourself what your leverage is. Well here’s what your leverage isn’t: your last job and salary. If you claim you won’t go any lower than your previous salary, your argument’s flawed. After all, it’s what you used to make, not what you make now … which is likely nothing. (And a potential employer knows this.) Instead, your skill set will determine your new salary offer, and this may or may not be of the same value to a new employer.
As an unemployed candidate, your leverage comes into play the moment you receive an offer. That leverage is the counter-offer and with it, “the other offer.” Having another offer at your disposal gives you the option to turn away from a deal. Simply tell the offering company that you have an offer for X amount and see if they’ll meet you at Y amount.
So you don’t have another job offer? Make one up. Yeah, this can be a risky tactic but can also work in your favor. If you’re up for the potential risk, it’s a great tool. Just keep potential backfire in mind. If you use this fake counter-offer and your prospective employer can’t match it, it looks suspicious if you have a change of heart and suddenly take the offer that was just recently too low.
Greed Doesn’t Always Pay
When working through the offer stages with a company, it’s best to err on the side of caution. Getting too greedy might come back to bite you. Everyone enjoys and needs money. If you’re in the position to be picky, by all means take advantage. But be sure to find a career, not just a job. Taking something just for the sake of employment might help in the short-term, but ultimately you’ll just find yourself looking for work again soon and future employers may begin to wonder why. Find the job that’s right for you and the money will come naturally.