Let’s be honest. You are trying to get a great career because you need to earn money to live. Of course, there are exceptions to this—some people don’t need money but work because they are passionate about it, and others are willing to accept a low salary for a job that they love. Yet, for the most part, your potential salary will be an important part of the consideration process of starting a new career.
You should always be ready to talk about salary, but you should never be the one to bring it up first. The only exception to this is if the company starts asking you to sign papers before the topic of salary has been discussed. It is important that you get through this discussion before you sign for your new job, so bring it up as tactfully as possible, and remain firm that an agreement must be made prior to you making a final decision.
Before you even walk through the door for your interview you should have in mind an amount that you are willing to accept. If you don’t have some idea of what you want before you go in, you won’t really be setting yourself up to negotiate for a better salary than what they initially offer you. Take some time to think about what salary will make you happy. Be honest with yourself and keep in mind the details of the position. Also ask yourself if you would be willing to walk away from a position that is being offered to you if they are unwilling to meet a specific number. Consider how you may feel later down the line if you take a job that doesn’t pay you what you feel you are worth.
Speaking worth, it is important that you are honest with yourself about how much experience and how many skills you have. Don’t just think about how much you would like to earn, or what a hard worker you are. Gather relevant information about the position, your education, and your experience. Find out how much similar positions are paid at different companies. Use this information to give you confidence when walking into the salary negotiations and provide you with leverage.
Keep in mind when you are thinking about how much a position is worth that the salary that is paid isn’t the only thing that you should be considering. There are many perks that can be offered as part of your compensation package and you should weigh each element carefully. You may be offered a signing bonus, comprehensive insurance programs, vacation days, retirement fund matching, and many other items. Discuss each of these perks carefully and be willing to do a little bit of negotiating to work out a deal that you like. There are some perks that are often easier to negotiate than others, so work with the recruiter to find a middle ground.
You may also want to consider asking for a higher pay grade. This will help you to earn raises without necessarily needing a promotion each time.