While there are plenty of people who genuinely love their jobs, there's no denying the main reason why most of us are currently in the work force: to make money. Some of us are interested in building wealth while others are merely trying to cover expenses, but whatever the motivation, if we work for a living, we all share one general belief: more money is better. Doing the same job for $50,000 a year, as opposed to $45,000, is an objectively better situation.
The problem is, most job candidates do a poor job of negotiating for a higher salary, and some don't even realize that salary negotiation is an expected part of the interview process. If you don't try to negotiate for a higher salary, you could be leaving money on the table--so during your next interview (or annual review), try some of these tricks to increase your perceived value as well as your take-home pay:
1. Do plenty of research.
Before you come up with a figure, make some calculations based on objective research. There are a number of reasons to do this. First, you'll come up with a much more appropriate figure than if you just try to guess based on your own experience. Second, you'll be able to back up your salary request with facts and evidence, and it will show that you've extensively prepared. Finally, you'll be able to walk in with much more confidence than if you just made up a figure on the drive over. Among other factors, be sure to research the average salary for your target position, the average salary at this specific company, and the average salary in your area.
2. Know your value to the company.
Your value to the company goes far beyond the position you're applying for. A "senior marketing manager" with 10 years of experience, an entrepreneurial background, and proficiency in both graphic design and basic programming is going to be worth more than a "senior marketing manager" with five years of experience and not much else on the table. All those peripheral skills you've been developing over time do have an objective value, so don't neglect to include them in your calculations. Also consider the fact that your value to the company should be based on more than one year of contributions--how would you improve this company in the future?
3. Ignore what you previously made.
One critical mistake of amateur salary negotiators is to use their previous salary as a base. They may request their old salary plus a small additional percentage, or just settle for what they're already used to making. Unless absolutely nothing has changed about you and you're working for the same company at the same position, this is counterproductive. Don't base any of your calculations on your old salary. Instead, look at your objective value to the company and the evidence you uncovered in your research. In fact, don't even mention your old salary in the interview.
4. Think beyond base salary.
Negotiation is a numbers game, but be ready to negotiate for more than just a base salary. For example, you may have a specific number in mind, but would you be willing to lower your ask by $2,500 a year in exchange for a more robust health plan or a retirement plan? Many of these peripheral benefits are negotiable, and you can even get creative--for example, you could request extra vacation days or flexible work-from-home time. Think about what's really important to you in a job, beyond just money, and don't be afraid to negotiate for it.
5. Shoot high, but prepare for rejection.
Don't be afraid to ask, and try to do so before your potential employer makes you an initial offer. When you do so, you should have a salary range you're looking for, so ask on the high end of that range, with a little extra padding in anticipation of a back-and-forth negotiation. There's a chance your high offer will be accepted, which is great news for you, but temper your expectations by preparing for a rejection. The worst that can happen is you get a "no" and have to negotiate.
6. Explain your reasoning.
When you make your original ask, be sure to mention all that research you did. A little explanation for your requested figure can go a long way, especially if you're asking for more than market price for the position. Justify why you're worth the extra money to this company, and be as objective as possible. Even if your request is higher than your potential employer would like, he/she will admire the extra forethought you put into the ask.
7. Maintain confident body and linguistic cues.
This should go without saying, especially during the interview process in general, but be sure to maintain consistently confident cues throughout the interaction. Keep your posture open, straight, and large. Refrain from excessive or frantic body language movements, and keep eye contact without staring. It's also useful to drop your tone of voice to sound more authoritative, speak genuinely, and speak slowly and deliberately to make yourself sound more confident and professional.
There's no guarantee that you'll be able to land a larger salary--strict budgets and tight competition could hamper your results--but if you don't even try to negotiate, you're doing yourself a great disservice. Do the research, make the ask, and let the cards fall where they may.