Salary negotiation isn’t part of your everyday job. But it is an essential part of getting fair compensation for your work. And, unsurprisingly, it’s an anxiety-inducing event for most employees – especially millennials.
It makes sense that salary negotiations make people nervous. Our salaries are inherently tied to our sense of self-worth. Asking for a raise forces us to assign a number to our value as employees. And doing so requires a healthy dose of confidence – something that, for many people, takes time to develop.
However, negotiating salary – and knowing how to do it well – is a skill that every employee needs to learn. And with annual reviews on the horizon at many companies, now is the perfect time to do it.
Below, we put together a list of five tips to help millennials negotiate salary like a pro:
1. Do your research
The first thing to do when it comes to salary negotiations? Research. You should know the average salary of someone in your position, in your geographic location, and at your experience level. Compare that to what you’re currently making, and what you want to make. If the average salary for your position is higher than what you make now, you have a compelling reason – and even some good evidence – to ask for a raise. If it’s lower, though, you may need a more convincing argument. To find out this information, you can search your position on Payscale, Glassdoor, or Salary.com.
2. Don’t settle for the first offer
Whether you’re in discussions for a new job or a salary increase, your employer will likely make an initial offer. It’s tempting to accept this first offer, especially if you don’t have a lot of negotiating experience. But you shouldn’t. Instead, try to push for something better. The best thing to do? Stay silent, allow for some time to pass, and then make a well-researched counter-offer. According to career coach Jack Chapman, this tactic, called “the flinch,” puts pressure on the employer and results in a higher offer more often than not.
3. Prove your value
It’s simple: your employer is paying you to create value for their company. If they know that they’re making a smart investment in you and are getting a good return, they’ll be willing to pay you more. That means you need to prove your value. Go into salary negotiations with a well-thought out and well-evidenced list of the ways you’ve added value to the company. Attach specific numbers and figures when you can – instead of just saying a project you piloted saved your employer time, say that you saved your employer 40 work hours per month, or $500 per day.
4. Be reasonable
It’s important to be reasonable when it comes to salary negotiation – asking for an outrageous raise may hurt more than it helps. Instead, present a reasonable offer based on objective research. Before you go into salary negotiations, seriously consider your request and whether or not it seems reasonable, based on average salaries in your field, cost of living in your area, and typical pay increases in your industry or at your company If it’s not, you may need to reevaluate your expectations – or consider asking for an increase in non-salary benefits instead.
5. Be professional
The most important part of salary negotiations? Showing professionalism and respect. It’s easy to get emotional if things don’t go your way, but being unprofessional during salary negotiation is the best way to find yourself without a raise – or even without a job. No matter how negotiations go, keep your cool, keep personal matters out of it, and definitely don’t threaten to quit – you don’t want to say anything in the heat of the moment that you might later regret.
Negotiating salary isn’t easy – especially if you’re new to the workforce. But done well, it’s definitely worth your while – and it’s an important skill to have. Prove that you’re a valuable asset to your company, and they’ll reward you with the raise you want.
Featured photo: Philip Taylor (Flickr)