Negotiating your salary is one of the most important (and fraught) parts of the hiring process. If you panicked and blurted out a number that you fear is too low, is it too late to change you mind and get a higher salary?
Victoria Crispo, program co-ordinator at Idealist Careers helps this reader figure out how to ask for more money after the fact.
I recently applied for a position and to my surprise I got a response from the HR team requesting an interview. I interviewed with a member of the senior management and was informed again that I was moving on to the next round of interviews. Everything is getting exciting but there is one elephant in the room—money. I had to apply for the position via the organization’s online portal and one of the questions was “what is your salary requirement?” to which I answered $50,000. In my interview, I was again asked my salary requirements and in the interest of remaining consistent, I said $50,000. After telling a few people about my interviews and the salary I requested, I received overwhelming feedback that:
- I should have given the salary range $50,000-$60,000.
- If I really want $50,000, I should have said $60,000.
- I should have asked for a higher salary, period.
And so, my question is, did I just shoot myself in the foot? Do I have any leverage to request more money when I initially said $50,000 in my application and interview?
I really appreciate your help with this. Negotiation is not my strength.
Thanks so much,
Ugh, how frustrating. You make a decision about something then you get feedback from people telling you what you “should” have said instead. Are they right? Maybe, maybe not!
Let’s start with them (because the real fun is focusing on you, and we’ll get to that in a bit)—are they “in the know” enough to give advice on this topic? Are the salaries they suggested arbitrary or do they have experience with ranges in the field of the job in question? Do they know what the position entails and what salaries are typical at your level?
See what I mean? It’s not cut and dried! So the next time you get advice on this topic from well-meaning family and friends, do a quick assessment check:
- Do they know anything about salaries for my field or did they suggest ranges for their own field?
- How well do they know my experience?
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on you. First:
This isn’t just about monetary figures. Let’s check in with your confidence in your abilities—in the job and in regard to negotiation. You’ve already admitted that you don’t find negotiation to be your strength. Guess what?
- You’re in good company. (I too, initially shirk at the idea of salary negotiations, and there are many more like us!)
- You can change this and become more comfortable with establishing your worth.
Some people who have been in our shoes eventually wind up loving the negotiation proceedings. (I know. It’s hard for me to believe too, but I’ve seen it happen!) It takes research and practice, but it can be done.
Now think about how confident you feel in your ability to do the job. Maybe this is an area you overlooked when you first posted that salary figure to your application. In the future, think about all the qualifications you meet. When you need to quote a desired salary, base it on solid research and reflection. What is the “going rate” for this type of job in your geographic area, what “special” skills or credentials do you offer, etc.
In regards to giving a “range” as opposed to a fixed number—yep, it’s always better to give a range but some online applications don’t actually allow for this. Don’t you hate those numerals-only entry boxes? In those cases, I agree with picking a salary rate higher than you really want, provided you’ve done enough research to know it isn’t ridiculously higher or lower than what is typical. You need to give yourself some leeway, and I’m sure you already know that it’s difficult to negotiate UP after you’ve inadvertently low-balled yourself.
If that’s what you did in this instance, there is still some hope. You can certainly say, “After speaking with you in person and gaining a more in-depth understanding of your needs, the salary range that I request is ___________.” Add something that was mentioned in the interview to back you up. For example:
After discussing the position at length during our interview, I see how instrumental I will be in the execution and day-of facilitation of all fundraising events. I’m really excited to implement the techniques I’ve used at my previous organization after earning my event management certification. I’m accustomed to working outside of the traditional “9 to 5” and welcome the opportunity to incorporate flextime in my work schedule. My salary range is _____________ and I’d like to discuss alternative benefits (such as flextime and the opportunity to work from home one or two days per week). I’ve heard great things about the organization’s commitment to work-life balance and am interested to learn more about the opportunities.
See what we did there? Mention that you’ve done this type of work already, point out that you will be working hours beyond the typical workweek, and you have an additional credential that adds to your worth. Most hiring managers would factor these into the salaries they offer. Sure, it would be better to discuss these prior to the initial salary request going out, but work with what you’ve got right now.
If you are truly uncomfortable with negotiating salary for this particular job, you still have room to work with in regard to other benefits. While the above script mentions both an updated salary range and additional benefits, you can say adjust the salary remark with a sentence like this:
I gave my salary requirement for monetary compensation but would like to discuss other benefits available to me.
You can request extra vacation days, flex-time or work-from-home opportunities, or professional training and development that will not only allow you to do your job better but will give you knowledge and expertise that you can take with you wherever you go next! But really, challenge yourself by doing the salary talk! I’m rooting for you!
So the all-important question: Did you shoot yourself in the foot?
After all is said and done, whether you try to renegotiate and your requests are not met, or you don’t negotiate at all, the person who would be able to best answer this question is you. In particular, look at these considerations:
- Can I survive on the salary I stated?
- What changes—if any—would I have to make to sustain my current lifestyle (and am I okay with them)?
- Am I excited about the job? Is it one I can imagine I’d enjoy going to everyday?
- Do I like the person who will be supervising me (from what I know so far)? Will we get along easily?
- Is there room for advancement at the organization? Are promotions in title only or do raises accompany them?
- Will I be able to “fast track” myself to pay increases that will get me back to the industry standards if my salary is much lower than it could be?
Avery, I hope you take the opportunity to negotiate your salary, even if it feels uncomfortable. Let us know how things go!
To your success!
This article originally appeared on Idealist Careers and is reprinted with permission.
Victoria Crispo: Throughout my 14+ year career in resume writing, career coaching, higher education, and working with nonprofit job seekers, I’ve used an approach that is nurturing yet practical and driven to high achievement. As program co-ordinator at Idealist Careers, I write career content and the “Ask Victoria” advice column for today’s social impact job seekers and leaders. Have a question? Ask at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @_askvictoria.