While many advocate for negotiating during the hiring process, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. And all too often ignored is another important, and less controversial, time for negotiations along your career path.
The numbers seem to differ on whether or not people negotiate during the hiring process. According to Salary.com some 18 percent of people don’t negotiate at all when they are hired. However, Forbes quoted a survey by CareerBuilder, which found almost half (49%) of all U.S. workers accept the first offer. The deeper you dig the more confusing the numbers become.
The reason for that seems to be many of these surveys don’t distinguish between where you are in your career. Most experts seem to agree that those starting out shouldn’t negotiate if they are happy with the first offer just for the sake of negotiating. Its better to take a good job with a good salary and get on with the business of starting a career.
However, once you have built up skills and talents, negotiation starts to make more sense. At that point you are able to visit some of the salary sites and see what you are worth, according to their calculations, and it gives you a sensible place from which to evaluate offers and make a case for a higher salary.
Industry also plays a role in whether or not negotiations are appropriate. If you are being interviewed for a pharma or medical device sales position, or another competitive field, your boss may be expecting to see an example of the techniques you’ll be using once they hire you. If you fail to negotiate your salary will you drive a hard bargain for their products? Scientists or operations personnel are judged by different criteria. Hiring for nurses is so competitive they can often write their own ticket, within reason.
Another survey conducted by salary.com found there’s also a disconnect between what employers and employees think about negotiation, which is also causing confusion.
They found among employees, 38% of those surveyed think companies will harbor resentment or be offended by the decision to negotiate either a job offer or a pay raise. But when asked about their personal experiences, only 4% claimed they were fired or demoted after asking for a raise, and just 19% said they lost a job offer during the interview stage when they decided to negotiate for more money.
But on the other side of the negotiating table, 73% of employers agreed they are not offended when people negotiate. Furthermore, a whopping 84% said they always expect job applicants to negotiate salary during the interview stage. But most importantly, 87% said they’ve never rescinded a job offer following negotiations during the interview, and no employers — that’s zero percent — reported demoting or firing an existing employee simply for asking for a raise.
Which brings us to a better, safer time to negotiate, if you don’t have the stomach for it in the hiring process, and that’s during your review. At that point you have a track record on which to base your request for increased pay and more information about what it makes sense to ask for.
Remember, it’s not just base salary that can be on the table. There are many more items to consider when negotiating your initial employment package, or your package moving forward. Performance expectations, benefits, perquisites, schedule for salary increase, and minimum severance are all topics than can be raised, as well as perks like more vacation days, flextime, or training.
The most important thing, regardless of when you negotiate, is to do your research and know what you out of the negotiation and what is reasonable. Asking for more without any basis, or just to have more, will backfire more often than not.
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