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3 Ways to Make Awkward Salary Negotiations Go More Smoothly

Topics: Negotiation

When should you bring up the topic of salary during a job interview? If the very idea of broaching the subject makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Data compiled for PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide show that 23 percent of men and 31 percent of women don’t negotiate because they’re uncomfortable talking about money. But skipping a potentially nerve-wracking conversation isn’t the answer: 75 percent of those who asked for more got some kind of pay bump.

salary negotiation
Image Credit: therichbrooks/Flickr

So how can you make a tough meeting go a bit more smoothly?

1. Pick the right time.

It’s true that there can be a lot of factors at play with salary negotiations but, generally speaking, the best time to approach the topic is after your first interview. By this time, you have developed a bit of rapport with your contact person, will have an idea if the interview went well or not, and have learned more about the company and their expectations for the role.

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2. Don’t feel the need to reveal your current salary.

Even if they ask you for it, you are not required to tell a company how much you currently earn. Your salary range shouldn’t be based on your previous earnings, anyway: the role you’re considering will likely be different from the one you’ve left, even if the job titles are similar.

Instead, base your salary request on actual data about the job in question. PayScale’s Salary Survey generates a free salary report that gives you a range based on the job title, plus your experience, education, skills, and geographic location, among other factors. It’s hard to argue with cold, hard facts.

After the first interview, you should feel free to let them know that you are looking for roles that offer salaries in a specific range, and ask them if that corresponds with their expectations.

They should be able to answer that conclusively at this point, because companies budget for open positions. It doesn’t mean negotiations should happen now, but it’s good for both parties to know that they’re not wasting their time if these ranges don’t match up.

3. Prepare for the response.

If you’re putting a salary range out there – and it’s best to do so, to avoid future disappointment – you should anticipate a response. If it’s that the salary range matches what they have for the role, great: you can continue to move forward with the interview process.

However, if your ranges are significantly different and they’re just not prepared to offer you as much as you’d like in the position, that might be the end of your discussion with the company.

Tell Us What You Think

When do you think is the best time to mention salary during the job interview process? Do you prefer to leave it until an offer is on the table, or get it out of the way early to avoid misunderstandings? Let us know in the comments below, or join the discussion on Twitter.

Kirsty Wareing
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