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Job hunting can be a slog: There's writing the cold emails, filling out countless applications and making the "why they just *have* to have you on their team" elevator pitch. And by the time you get the good news everyone wants to hear ("You got the job!"), you may be ready to accept the gig and pop open a celebratory bottle of champagne.
But if your interview timeline doesn't include the step of negotiating your starting salary, you could be selling yourself short by several thousand dollars. That's according to a survey from CareerBuilder, which found 56% of us don't negotiate our starting salary. Unsurprisingly, the main reasons for not doing so include that it's uncomfortable to ask for more money (51%), candidates are afraid they'll have their offer rescinded (47%) or they don't want to appear greedy (36%).
Meanwhile, the majority of hiring managers *are* expecting a counteroffer for more, and 52% of bosses even said they intentionally give a salary lower than what they can actually offer. In fact, more than a quarter of employers who do this say their initial offer is $5,000 or more lower than what they can actually pay for the position.
Granted, losing out on a few thousand dollars is already bad, but when you think about how this is compounded every year you're at that job — and how it can contribute to a career of being underpaid — it's crucial to get over the discomfort and take the lead in negotiating your salary anyway. Here are some tips to get over the awkwardness.
How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary
Do your research. Get a sense of your market worth by using sites like Glassdoor and Payscale, which you can search based on your new title, company, and your geographic location for even more specific results. Use these findings as a benchmark to position your counteroffer.
Or, ask around. Depending on your role and location, there might not be a ton of information online. Here's where it can benefit you to tap your network about the going rate in your field. Consider talking to recruiters you've worked with before, checking other job postings that might have salary information, or reaching out to mentors who have held similar positions.
Think beyond the dollar figure. Salary is just one component of your total compensation package, so even if the company can't budge on your paycheck, include some perks into your negotiations, including extra paid time off, a flexible schedule, work-from-home arrangement or other benefits that are important to you. (And hey, let's be honest, even if they *do* meet your salary requirements, it still may be worth checking if these perks are on the table.)
Remember that this is a negotiation. Hey, it's in the company's best interest to get as much quality work for as little payment as possible — it's just business. That's why it's up to you to be your own best advocate and negotiate for a figure you think is fair and meets your financial needs. If you don't, you could very well be leaving money on the table.