Step 6: Learn How To Negotiate

You might be inclined to avoid negotiation because you generally shy away from confrontation. If that’s the case, understand that your decision to avoid a 5 minute talk about money will affect you for years. If you start low, you can practically guarantee that your future raises will be as insignificant as possible. There are two reasons for this. The first is because a percentage increase from a low number is still a lower number, and the second is that you demonstrated to your employer that you won’t put up a fight when they give you crap.

The same thing applies if you avoid negotiation because you don’t want to seem greedy. Remember that this is just business. They are exchanging money for your skills. Asking for more is not greedy if all you’re asking for is a fair shake.

Some people fear that asking for more will cost you them the job. As long as you don’t give them any ultimatums and demonstrate that you’re reasonable, the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no and counter your ask.


Know Your Worth


There’s no sense negotiating if you don’t even know what you should be getting. In order to determine how much you should be getting paid, consider all of the following:

  • Ability – Honest assessment of your technical skill level
  • Years of experience – Just a base number for base entitlement
  • Quality of experience – How much of it was pure Networking?
  • Relevance of experience – How much of it will be used in your new role?
  • Certifications – Your Cisco certifications command a base salary
  • Size of the organization – Are they a small, mid-sized, or large?
  • Type of organization – Are they Oil and Gas? Privately or publicly owned? Unionized?
  • Type of job – Is this salary based, or a contract?

Next, find out what other people with all of these attributes are getting paid, and then use that to determine how much you’re worth. The best way to find out the right number is by talking to your trusted friends/peers in the industry. Just show them the job you’re applying for, come up with the number you think you should be getting, and ask them what they think of it. You can also look online at job postings that straight up say what they’re willing to pay, or go to websites like Payscale or Glassdoor and do some research.

By the end of this, you should have a hard number in mind.


Declare That Number


When it comes time to discuss compensation, it’s best to just tell them your number. This is a number that you came up with after assessing the situation and doing research. It’s going to be within reason and you should be confident with it.

When they ask you how much you’re looking for, just tell them the number and then wait for them to respond. This way they know what your expectations are and begin to work around that number.

If they start the conversation by asking how much you made in your previous job, then you have two (honest) options.

If the number from your previous job is way below what your assessed number is, then you don’t want to tell them because that’s going to give them leverage. You can instead answer by saying you would prefer not to disclose that, and that based on your experience, abilities, and the responsibilities involved in the role, that you would like [your number]. If they press continue to the matter, just say that’s between yourself and your former employer and that it’s not relevant.

If the number from your previous job happens to be close to your assessed number, then just tell them, as the answer gives you leverage in this case.

From here on out, there might be a little more back and forth but generally there isn’t. If they counter you, it will likely be close enough that you’ll just concede. If they counter really low, just stand your ground or counter with whatever lesser number you’re willing to accept. If you don’t like what they have to offer, then just walk away from it.

Whatever you do, just be direct and nonchalant about what you want. It might be hard to do that initially if you’re new to this and/or aren’t a generally assertive person, however it gets easier over time.

And always be prepared to answer if they ask you why you believe you’re worth however much you asked for.

To continue on about the next step, click here.