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When Is the Best Time to Negotiate Salary?


What do entry-level workers and executives have in common? To get the salary they deserve, they both need to negotiate. That’s bad news if salary negotiation makes you uncomfortable, but the good news is this: by negotiating pay, you’re almost certain to earn more over the course of your career. However, timing is everything, so let’s talk a little bit about when to ask for the salary you deserve.


(Photo Credit: changeorder/Flickr)

1. …after you’ve done your homework.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The process of landing a new job is often long and labor-intensive. After months of planning, researching, networking, and just generally hustling, it would be silly to stop being proactive at the salary negotiation stage – and you’ll likely be leaving thousands of dollars on the table if you do. So, make sure to be just as prepared for this part of the job search process as every other.

The first thing you need to do is to research how much you’re worth. Get a free salary report from PayScale and then spend some time reading it carefully. You’ll be in a much better position to negotiate once you’re armed with information about what you should be earning.

2. …every time you change jobs.

There are no guarantees that you’ll end up with a higher salary if you negotiate your initial offer, but if you don’t ask, you won’t get. So, before you even hear that first offer, commit to not taking it without attempting to negotiate.

Especially if this is your first job, or if you’ve made a career change, the salary you’re offered right out of the gate might sound pretty darn good. But, you could earn more. Your future self will thank you for doing the legwork now – and since salary increases at most companies are a percentage of your earnings today, every raise you receive from here on out will be more robust if you start with a higher salary.

Experts estimate that over the course of a lifetime, not negotiating salary could cost you as much as a million dollars. Take that information to heart and commit yourself to negotiating, before you even have an offer on the table.

3. …at the end of the second interview.

Talk about salary can sometimes begin as early as the first meeting, but Nick Deligiannis, managing director for recruiting firm Hays, suggests jumping in on the discussions no sooner than toward the end of second interview. This is because most hiring managers will raise the topic of salary during this stage if you are the preferred candidate – and that is the ideal position to be in for negotiations. If your potential future employer doesn’t talk salary then, the verbal offer stage (not after a written offer) is pretty good timing as well.

“…If salary isn’t brought up, a job offer will be made verbally before a formal written offer is made,” said Deligiannis in Lifehacker. “This verbal offer stage is the next best time to negotiate since you’re now firstly positioned as the employer’s top choice. Thank your hiring manager for their offer, affirm your enthusiasm for the role and organisation and explain that you’d like to discuss the compensation package on offer.”

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What is the ideal time to negotiate salary in your opinion and experience? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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