a man swimming in an ocean of money holding money

The salary negotiation starts way earlier than you would realize. From the very first moment you step into the meeting room, the negotiation started: everything you say, do and share with the employer is relevant. That’s why you should prepare for the interview and give the best first impression and a pleasant environment. But when it comes straight down to how to negotiate salary with HR, you’ll probably have two situations to face:

  1. During the interview, the hiring manager asks you “What are your salary expectations?”
  2. Negotiating for a higher salary after receiving an offer

Either way, these tips will be of great help to negotiate the highest salary!

How to prepare for salary negotiation

A simple Google search won’t give you a specific number, but having at least a range is already a great help. Next to articles, salary calculators can give you a nice overview. Make sure you consider the industry, location, years of experience and also the stage of the startup.

2. Use Linkedin

If you want to do more than general research, you can also contact HR managers via Linkedin, and ask them for their opinion. Don’t get disappointed if not everyone answers you, but you have nothing to lose. By contacting them, you also have the chance to make yourself visible, and start a conversation that could lead to new opportunities.

  • Example: Dear XY, I found your profile while I was searching for a reliable HR specialist. Currently, I applied for an XY position, with Z years of professional experience and I would highly appreciate it if you could give me some insights as a Hiring Manager: how high should my salary expectations be in this industry? Thank you very much for your answer in advance

3. Know your value and strengths

Be prepared to sell yourself and to build up your own personal brand! The bottom line is: what makes you different from others? Why should they hire you? Think of 2-3 distinctive strengths and bring up examples from your previous jobs.

4. Check out the company’s team & reasons for the open position

Your bargaining power is also dependent on the urgency of the position you’re applying for. The company website and the team structure can give you good insights: is the company scaling up and urgently needs an international marketer, or are they rather looking for a +1 employee to allocate resources better? You can also ask (politely!) what the reason for the open position is.

5. Go for the top…

You asked everyone, checked everything and now you have to come up with a number. You probably didn’t receive a concrete one, but rather a range. In this case, you should always answer the higher number, so you’ll still have a place to negotiate it down with HR. But it’s important not to shoot for the impossible: base your proposition on your benchmark!

6. …And don’t forget the bottom either

Have a clear, final number in mind, as the lowest amount you’d accept. If the negotiated price is below that, be prepared to politely reject the offer.

7. Practice your answers

To seem convincing but humble at the same time, you need to structure your answers and find the perfect balance. You don’t want to sound too focused on the material compensation! The preparation and practice might take long… but as time passes by, you’ll professionalize your answers and they will come naturally! Using the STAR method can help you proact your answers more effectively.

What to do during the interview

8. Bring a concrete number to the table…

Whether it is in person or an interview on the phone when they ask you about your salary requirements, don’t just say the top but really come up with a concrete number. For example, instead of 55.000, you can say 54.600. This shows your potential employer, that you really did your work and you’re aware of the industry trends, hence you cannot be played easily.

9. …And explain it!

Explain what elements formed your desired salary! Don’t shy away from showing the interviewer, that you thought the topic through. Market trends, fringe benefits, learning opportunities, your own expenses, and other factors could be mentioned.

10. Don’t forget about the fringe benefits & shares

If you want to negotiate a higher salary after the job offer, don’t forget to also evaluate the additional compensations and benefits. Be aware that in the startup industry it’s common to offer time or performance-based shares to the employees, which can also increase the negotiated compensation.

11. Bring a performance review of previous experiences

Another good way to show your strengths is to prepare a one-page performance evaluation of past achievements. For example, the main KPI’s you boosted, projects you accomplished, and initiatives you took. Everything in one, clean page! Want to show skills in a more professional manner, try doing a virtual assessment at a center to have the numbers of what you have to offer!

12. Keep it positive and respectful

The most important thing to remember is to stay humble and try to maintain a calm, friendly exterior. Don’t overdo the salary negotiation with HR, and try to recognize when it’s getting too much for the employer. If you feel that the interviewer can not or does not want to offer you the salary you expected, then kindly reject the offer.

13. Get it in writing & scrutinize it

If the salary interview negotiation went well and you accepted the offer, it’s obvious that you’ll receive a contract. What might not be so obvious, is what you understood and what the employer meant by some terms. Make sure to check precisely every term in your contract to avoid awkward misunderstandings in the future.

Make sure to be well-prepared for other parts of the interview, such as answering questions like “What are your biggest weaknesses?” or “Why should we hire you?“!

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