The first salary negotiation tip has to do with timing. When should you do it? To everything, there is a season. The aphorism applies to matters both great and small and there is a right time and a wrong time for even the most mundane act.
If Ecclesiastes were written today, this nugget of wisdom might be expressed differently, but it is not too great a stretch to apply it to the stages of the job search, including negotiating your salary and negotiating your benefits. In that context, as in so many others, timing is everything.
This sentiment is especially applicable to one of the most sensitive issues facing the job applicant, the frequently awkward question of salary. This issue must be raised when the time is right, since it can otherwise derail even a compelling candidacy.
Salary negotiation may be second nature to you if you have a background as a manager or an executive, but that does not mean that you should arrive at an interview with guns blazing, ready to get to dollars and cents immediately after taking a seat.
Every negotiator wants to negotiate from a position of strength, a position that you cannot occupy until you know that the company wants you. Selling yourself to your prospective employer is the first order of business; your negotiating leverage is nil until that sale is made.
For many applicants, especially those who live and breathe negotiation, the prospect of deferring any talk of compensation is difficult to accept. Your goal, however, is to solidify your identity as the person the company most wants to hire and, to that end, your presentation must focus consistently on how the company will benefit from your presence, not on what is in it for you as an employee.
It can be difficult for an applicant to keep a lid on this very natural interest in compensation. Salary is obviously of paramount concern and the people across the table know this quite well. Patience is the key, however. Unless you receive a strikingly clear sign that you have made the sale, put questions of pay completely out of your mind so that your real message, how good
you will be for the company, comes across loud, clear and unclouded by other concerns.
Once compensation is on the table, there are abundant strategies that can help you get the salary you want, but they will be of little use if you raise the subject prematurely. Negotiating leverage will come when it is clear that you have sold yourself as the right person for the job. Until then, you should not seem to be in it for the money at all, at least in the eyes of your future colleagues.