Salary Negotiation Know-How

Negotiating salary with a prospective employer can be a tricky and intimidating process. While you don’t want to overplay your hand and appear out of touch, you can’t afford to sell yourself short either. Before going to the proverbial bargaining table to discuss compensation, consider the following tips for getting the best deal possible:

Arm yourself with data. The strongest negotiators are well-informed negotiators, so gather concrete numbers from reputable sources. For example, consult The Creative Group’s recently released 2013 Salary Guide to make sure your request is in line with the going rate for the position you seek.The guide includes average starting salary ranges for more than 125 creative positions, and data can be customized for over 135 U.S. markets.

Perk up. If a hiring manager is unable to meet your salary request, that doesn’t mean there isn’t wiggle room when it comes to perks. Many elements of the compensation package can be negotiated, including bonuses, vacation time, tuition reimbursement, training opportunities and even remote work options. You may find that a generous benefits package and improved work/life balance make up for a lower base salary.

Remain pleasant. Negotiations with an employer should be serious but genial. Some candidates feel that a hard-nosed approach is most effective. Unfortunately, the opposite is often true. You won’t do yourself any favors by issuing ultimatums or taking an even slightly adversarial tone. Don’t threaten to walk away if your demands aren’t met.

Instead, be poised, pleasant and appreciative – even if you ultimately decide to turn down the offer. You want to leave the door open to future communication should a more suitable opportunity arise at the firm down the line.

Never bluff. Don’t claim to have a more lucrative offer from a competing firm if you don’t. More than a few job candidates have had their misguided bluffs called and ended up with nothing. Not only is lying risky business – it also calls your integrity into question. Ultimately, mom is right: Honesty is the best policy, even when negotiating your salary.

Know when to quit. Many employers expect to engage in some back-and-forth negotiating. If you’ve volleyed with the company a few times and end up getting what you’ve asked for, don’t change your demands just to see what else you can squeeze out of the firm.

Candidates shoot themselves in the foot when they overestimate an employer’s patience or willingness to play games. When hiring managers make reference to the “final offer,” take them at their word.

Get it in black and white. If you accept the job offer, request a letter detailing all aspects of the agreement. That includes the annual salary and any special arrangements – such as relocation assistance, flexible hours or extra vacation days – you’ve negotiated. It’s important that you and the employer are on the same page about the arrangement from the get-go.

  • Read the 2012 Design Salary Report in the November issue of HOW Magazine
  • Learn how to make more money as a designer in 2013 and get the 2012 salary report with this design tutorial



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