SALARIES / JUN. 24, 2014
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How to Negotiate a Starting Salary

It's one thing to have a rough figure of your starting salary, but it's another different ball game to know from an unbiased source how much you're actually worth. That’s because at times, we tend to overestimate ourselves to soothe our fragile egos. However, to have a realistic perspective regarding the starting salary we deserve, maybe it's time we thought differently by walking in the footsteps of an employer. Because whether we like it or not, it's the employer that will have the final say regarding your starting salary. It's also important to note that the employer considers certain facts and figures you present before putting a price tag on you. And thus, in light of an employer's expectations, we should ask ourselves, how does one negotiate a starting salary?

#1 Showcase Salaries, Benefits and Incentives in Prior Internships and Jobs
Fresh graduates with no job experience are likely to be undervalued if they don't indicate income from previous internships. Similarly, salaries earned in previous jobs have a lot to do with your starting salary. Remember, the employer is a bidder trying to save his company's costs by bargaining on your future services. But at the same time, you've got to show your employer the threshold from which he/she should begin the bidding. Otherwise, you'll get angry at a clueless employer for quoting an 'offending starting figure'.

#2 Present a Blueprint of Milestones you would want to achieve in the Company
You've indicated interest in working for the company and in fact, the employer is interested in hiring you. However, did you do your homework on the company's background? Because the blueprint that you prepare regarding the plans and vision you have for the company will ultimately be enshrined upon the company's background. It's also important to remember that true innovators think about what people will want in future. Similarly, the employer is looking for trend setters and innovators that will propel the company to new heights. Therefore, if the employer sees all indications that you're not just there to do the job you're assigned to, then chances of being motivated with an impressive starting salary are magnified.

#3 Highlight Academic Credentials Relevant to the Company
Unfortunately, many graduates think that as long as I have a degree, then I deserve an impressive starting salary in any company that I work for. However, there are always numerous complaints in many companies regarding unfair remuneration of workers from an academic perspective. For instance, you might find a degree holder earning less than a diploma holder. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. If the diploma is more in tune with the company's operations than the degree, then this is bound to happen. That's why it's essential to find out which academic credentials are relevant to the company and showcase them when negotiating a starting salary. You might even find a 'simple' diploma you finished recently being more relevant to a company than a degree that took you four grueling years to achieve.

#4 Showcase Wealth of Experience and Key Milestones Achieved in previous Jobs and Internships
Many experienced careerists unfortunately showcase wealth of experience without milestones and this will definitely sound monotonous to the employer. For you to stand out, you've got to highlight milestones you've achieved along your wealth of experience chronology. And to be honest, no employer will want to give an impressive starting salary to someone who shows no prospects of growth for the company. A promising and progressive employee will not only be given a good starting salary, but he will get salary increases in future especially when the company wants to retain exceptional talents that are vulnerable to 'poaching' by other companies. However, an employee experiencing plateau will get the same 'normal' salary for years and there will be no love lost when the employee calls it quits.

#5 Indicate Vocational Courses you plan to pursue while employed, if any
The employer is ultimately interested in loyalty for the company. And what better way to prove loyalty than adding value to the services you offer year after year. Vocational training is ultimately the best way to improve on the quality, value and delivery of services since you'll be armed with the necessary prerequisite skills required to handle more difficult tasks. That's why it's important to tell your employer about vocational courses you plan to pursue in line with the company's growth and future plans. This will definitely show the employer that an impressive salary will not be wasted away in lavish spending. But it will instead go to fulfilling a worthy cause.

#6 Give a modest preview about your lifestyle to justify your starting salary request
We all have monthly bills that have to be settled. However, not all bills have the same figure. That's because we all have our own personal lives that have their own unique demands and challenges. And that's something that you'll want your employer to understand preferably by word of mouth during the negotiations. Talk about the family you've got, the place you live, the mortgage you're settling and so forth. Financial documentation as evidence would be an added advantage especially if the employer seems stingy with the intent of playing hard ball. There are no established rules here. However, you've got to be modest and avoid sounding desperate and needy. Otherwise, you'll wrongfully create the impression that your sole focus will be on living from pay cheque to pay cheque during your tenure in the company.

#7 Get tips and tricks about salary negotiations by consulting previous and current employees
Every company has its unique style of determining starting salaries and doing everything by the book might not always work. For instance, the clothes you wear and the personality you portray during the interview might single-handedly determine your starting salary. I've personally witnessed companies that are that 'petty'. It would thus be unfortunate to look like a self-righteous villain for sticking to professional negotiation tactics when in fact, you might be intimidating an employer who's not as qualified as you're. That's why it's important for you to ask those who've been there and done that. They know the repercussions of crossing some boundaries and the benefits of following some rules when negotiating a starting salary.

In my opinion, if we were to compile salary negotiation tips from 100 random companies all over the world, we would end up with an encyclopedia of divergent views and opinions. The rules that we've discussed above are just but a skeleton of numerous salary negotiation tips that apply to every unique company. In the end, it's wise to tread carefully and assess a company's psychological tendencies before taking the first step in any salary negotiations.

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