Negotiating a salary is an extremely important step in making sure you're getting paid appropriately for the job you're taking. Most employers expect you to negotiate when they give you an offer, so don't think that it's weird. However, always wait until after the company has made an offer before you start to negotiate, and make sure to thank them for the initial offer.
The most important thing to know before negotiating is how much money a comparable role makes at that company or a nearby competitor. This isn't always easy to find out, especially if it's a very specific role or a company that doesn't have very many competitors. Websites like www.glassdoor.com are very useful for doing this type of research, and can help in understanding before you apply to a job what to expect. If the salary range you're looking for is way above any of the reported salaries, then maybe it's not even worth applying, or at the very least it's important to understand what the company is thinking in terms of compensation early on in the interview process.
When you negotiate an offer, if you have comparable numbers to back it up, that makes your position in the negotiation much stronger. Instead of saying something like "I would like more money," you can say something like "Based on some research I did, the typical person in this role would make 10% more than what you've proposed. Do you have any room to move the salary closer to market rate?" By using this approach, you're establishing that you've spent time doing research, you're not picking a number out of thin air, and helping to inform the employer what they've offered isn't going to compare favorably to other companies.
It's also extremely helpful to have an offer from another company to share with the potential employer. Ask if they can match what the other company has offered, but only if you're seriously considering taking the matched offer. It's not a good idea to try and start a bidding war, since either employer might think that you're getting to pricey/complicated and pull the offer before you sign.
Keep in mind though, any salary that is offered is also based on your skills and what you bring to the company. If you're new to the workforce, don't expect to get paid the same as someone who has been working for a few years, even if they're in the same position as you. Likewise, if the role requires certain certifications or skills that you don't have, it's going to be hard to ask for top dollar, knowing that you'll need to spend extra time/money getting trained.
Also, remember that there's more to the total compensation than just the salary. Some companies have more flexibility with other items like annual bonuses, signing bonuses, vacation time, and other parts of your offer. If you're flexible, you might find you're able to get more from negotiating non-salary related parts of your offer.
Finally, also keep in mind where the job is located. In general, companies that are located in major metropolitan areas have higher salaries than in suburban or rural areas. This is due to a variety of factors like cost of living and supply and demand. So even if you've found salaries that are higher for that role, make sure you're comparing apples to apples.
Best of luck!
Ryan recommends the following next steps:
- Research comparable salaries in your market