Salary Negotiation – Tips You Can Use In Any Job Market

Shannon Tinker

Shannon Tinker

By Shannon Tinker

The ‘how to’ of negotiating salaries has likely been a hot topic since the invention of employment. In reality, there are no hard and fast rules for determining salary and an Internet search on salaries can sometimes prove helpful and other times is sadly, misleading.

Everyone wants to be paid a fair salary and wishes for a magic answer to ‘what am I worth.’  Unfortunately there is not a master doctrine in place dictating set salaries for particular skills sets. Jobs, companies, and employers are as different as snowflakes and cannot be lumped into any generalized salary list.  It is important to consider each snowflake individually and to truly know which one will be the best fit.  Yes, salary is important, but rarely is it the most important thing when considering a new job.

What is your Dream Job?

Before you enter the job market, you need to be clear, about what you are looking for.  It may be most beneficial to make a list about what you want in your dream job. Include information about where the job would be located, how large of a company you’d like to work for, do you want to work in a small team or a large team, what technology would you be working with? What would you be doing day-to-day? Write down your dream salary, benefit package and vacation policy.  This list has no limits, thus the word ‘Dream.’

Non-negotiable Job Requirements

Now, that you are clear on what really gets you excited, look at the ‘pie in the sky’ job list again. Ask yourself which of these things are most important to you and if anything is non-negotiable.  If you are not willing to travel more than 30 minutes to your job, make job location a requirement. Knowing your non-negotiable requirements will save you, hiring managers and recruiters a ton of time as you avoid applying to and interviewing for jobs that don’t meet your minimum criteria.

Where can you bend and how flexible can you be?

Establishing the things on your list that you have flexibility on is as crucial as determining what you can’t live without.  Decide exactly how flexible you are on certain requirements. You’d love to be making 100K, but would consider less. How much less and for what trade-offs?  It’s helpful to crunch the numbers ahead of time to know what you need to make in order to live.  It helps to have your salary expectations divided into categories before entering any negotiations.  Ask yourself: What is my ‘dream’ salary?  What is my ‘I’d be happy with x’ salary? And you definitely want to know your, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me, no way, no how’ salary.

The Bottom Line

While it’s great to think big, it is important to consider your bottom line. An offer can come in lower than you expected and still be your dream job. When negotiating salary expectations and desires, consider the pain of losing the job opportunity long before you dig in your heels demanding a higher salary.  There are various reasons why a company may not offer you as much as you had hoped.  A low ball offer rarely reflects how the company values you or your skills.

Establish your bottom line income needs.  When you know what you ‘need’ versus what you want, it becomes easier to know when to walk away and when to compromise. Suppose you need 80K to pay your bills and live your life.  If a company offers you 79K, you can walk away regret-free despite the stock options, tuition reimbursement and a free membership to the local country club. On the other hand, if you can live comfortably on 80K and the job opportunity has many of the things on your ‘list,’ don’t get caught up with what you think you are worth.  Know what really drives you and avoid walking away from, what could have been, the best job you ever had.


Guest blogger, Shannon Tinker, successfully recruited for over a decade in various high tech fields. She is a multifaceted writer who entertains in her blog Reinventing Tinks on coming to terms with post-burn out. Shannon’s professional writings encompass subjects on hiring, interviewing, talent management, and other recruiting-related subjects. Shannon can be reached on LinkedIn.

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