What should you do when an employer offers a salary that is below your expectations? These strategies will put you in control of the negotiation.
First of all, you have to distinguish between the two situations where the employer is making a salary offer.
Situation 1: You have not yet been selected for the job, and the employer is giving you an indication of the salary range.
Situation 2: You have been selected for the job, and you and the employer are now negotiating about your exact salary offer.
For Situation 1, remember the strategies we discussed last time (see my previous article "Get the Salary You Deserve: Using the Right Strategy in Salary Negotiation"), and delay firm comments or answers as much as possible. At the same time, request more information about the job responsibilities and opportunities to learn new skills, etc. This helps you evaluate the job more carefully, and gives a positive impression to your prospective employers in that you do not focus only money.
For Situation 2, congratulations! You are almost there. Now is when you start to fight for the best possible deal.
If you are not sure whether you are in Situation 1 or 2, ask your potential employer politely. Just say "I'm not sure if you are making an official offer to me now, or if you are just discussing the salary range for this position in general. Can you clarify that for me?" You can also say something like "I am very interested in this job opening. However, I would like
to know what exactly we are discussing. Have I already been selected for
the job? Or are we discussing the salary for this position?"
When a firm offer is made, it usually includes a clear indication of other benefits like holidays, medical and insurance coverage, etc. Therefore, even if the salary is not up to your expectations, remember there is still room for you to consider the offer. You will also need time to plan the negotiation process.
Therefore, whatever the specifics of their offer to you, take time to think it through; don't be hasty. Ask them politely when you need to get them an answer. Tell them that you are honored by their offer and will give it very serious consideration, but that you need some time to get back to them. Don't accept the offer immediately. You need time to think about this.
Use that time to research the salary range of similar jobs in your industry. You can talk to the internal staff of your prospective employer. Research and collect information from recruiter firms and local employment research centers. Refer to my article "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Job Interviewees".
You previous income level is usually the biggest factor for you to consider, and you should certainly include this in your evaluation. Bear in mind that an employer offers you a salary range based on many factors, and your previous earnings are just one part of their calculations. Remember, they have a lot of candidates to consider, and the fair market price is the most important element in their calculations to determine an acceptable salary range for the job.
When you have come up with a reasonable salary expectation, compare that with the offer from your prospective employer. Is there a big gap? Can you adjust your expectation a little bit to narrow the gap?
Whatever your conclusion, you will now go ahead and negotiate. You never know exactly what is going on in your employers' mind; the only way to find out is to put issues on the table and start negotiating. Remember to start your negotiation with a salary higher than your bottom line, so that you have some room to work with.
For example, if your employer offers you a salary of US$2000 per month, your salary expectation is US$2300 per month, you should start your counter offer at US$2500. This gives you the ability to "give" a little in the negotiation.
How should you put this offer to your employer? Every case is different, but you can try this approach: "Thank you for your offer. I am very interested in working with your company.
In the past few days, I have thought about the nature of the job and its
responsibilities. I have evaluated my previous working experience and skills
that fit this opening. I think that with my skills and experience, a salary
of US$2500 per month would be reasonable. I am open to negotiating a mutually-agreeable
Remember to use the words "open" and "negotiate" in your discussion. It signals that you are amenable to further negotiation. This prevents a scenario where you scare away your employers by appearing closed to discussion.
Opening your discussion with an offer that is slightly higher than your real expectation leaves you room for negotiation. If the employer counter-offers a salary that is slightly less than your expectation, you might still be satisfied with the counter offer.
Many people don't want to negotiate salary. They're afraid that they will lose the offer. The fact is, an employer takes a lot of time to select a candidate before they make an offer. Once they have made it, they are less likely to change their mind over a question of money. If you reply with a counter offer, it might be annoying to them, but they will consider it.
So be brave! Put your expectations on the table. At the end of the day, if you're not satisfied with the offer, you can always say "no". Why not take the chance to negotiate a better deal? It doesn't cost anything!
If the employer comes back with a final offer that is non-negotiable, then the decision becomes very simple for you: accept it, or not.
The strategies just discussed bring the final decision power back under your control. Good luck in your salary negotiation!
From the Desk of
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