3 Situations Where You Must Negotiate Salary

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Ever get a feeling that the job search process is one that’s custom-designed to chip away at your confidence? From sitting in waiting rooms with dozens of other candidates, to the grueling gauntlet of pre-interviews, interviews, tests, and negotiations, is it any wonder that the first emotion we feel upon receiving an offer is relief ? This is what underpins the findings of a recent study conducted by CareerBuilder, which found an astonishing 49% of U.S. working professionals never attempt to negotiate salary; we feel so lucky to have been offered a position that we’ll do anything not to jeopardize it.

If salary negotiation isn’t an expected part of your job search, you are willingly sacrificing both money and future prospects. In their paper, “Who Asks and Who Receives in Salary Negotiation” researchers Michelle Marks and Crystal Harold found that employees who negotiated their salary increased annual pay an average of $5K. Assuming a 5% average annual pay increase over 40 years, that’s an extra $634K in earnings over a lifetime versus a non-negotiator. Sure, negotiating can be awkward and fraught with tension, but is it really six hundred thousand dollars awkward?

Here are 3 situations where negotiating salary is a must:

1) You Have an Offer In Writing

Ask any salesman and they’ll tell you the deal’s not done until the money’s in hand. The same principle holds true for a job search. All the great conversations about compensation and benefits mean little until an employer is willing to put it down in writing. Once they do, however, you have leverage. You know that they want you, and at this point it would be easier for all parties involved to finalize. Carefully evaluate every aspect of the job offer, and if something’s really off, address it in a thoughtful counter-offer.

2) You Can Demonstrate Added Value

Value equals compensation. If you’re not happy with the salary being presented, it is imperative to make a case that centers around the value you’re bringing to the table. An effective resume can play a key role in this, as it can crystallize the unique qualities which set you apart, and serve as a blueprint for which aspects of your career to elaborate upon. Whatever you do, don’t try to negotiate on the basis of need. No employer cares why you need more money. What they need to know is what they’re getting for the additional investment.

3) You’re Seeing Potential Red Flags

If you’ve received an offer but have serious qualms about non-negotiable elements like the corporate culture, the career advancement track (or lack thereof), or your superiors, then you need to push for a better one. Big picture problems carry more risk, and more risk needs to be offset by more rewards. Americans now spend an average of 4.6 years at a job- take a stand for what you need to make those years happy and fulfilling ones!

Anish Majumdar is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Founder of ResumeOrbit.com, a consulting firm that specializes in Resume/CV Development, LinkedIn Profile Development and Executive Bio Letter Development for senior and mid-level professionals.