Salary negotiations can make even the most experienced professionals nervous.
Elizabeth Trcka, a partner at Skywalk Group, a recruiting and human resources consulting business in Cedar Rapids, has tips to make the experience less intimidating.
Whether you’re interviewing for a new position or asking for a raise at your current job, Trcka says preparation is crucial.
“You don’t have to be worried — you have to be prepared. Do some research about salaries for your type of role,” she said. Websites like Salary.com and the U.S. Department of Labor’s website can provide insight about average salary ranges across the country.
AT A NEW JOB
When you’re interviewing for a new job, Trcka said you should make sure the employer fully understands your qualifications to position yourself for the salary you want.
“Think of three things you want to highlight about your experience, and if they aren’t covered during the interview, bring them up when you’re given an opportunity to ask questions,” she said.
The best way to frame your experience, according to Trcka, is to be specific. Describe a situation you’ve encountered, the action you took and the outcome. “It gives interviewers a better picture of your background,” she said.
If interviewers ask how much you make at your current job, there are a few ways to redirect the conversation so you don’t box yourself in.
“Give a range or say that you don’t have a specific number in mind and that you’re looking to move forward in responsibility and compensation,” Trcka said.
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If you do share your current salary, don’t forget to include benefits like bonuses and time off, so you’re providing a complete picture.
Trcka said applying for a new job can be the ideal time to think about things other than money that you’d like to negotiate for — like unpaid time off or a flexible schedule if that’s something that’s a priority for you.
AT YOUR CURRENT JOB
If you’re asking for a raise at your current workplace, Trcka says you should mention any new responsibilities you’ve taken on and talk about what you’ve helped the organization achieve. Ideally, you should jot down notes about your accomplishments throughout the year, long before you schedule a meeting to discuss a raise.
“Talk about how you’ve added value. The perfect time to ask is when your boss has been impressed,” she said.
If you’ve been at the same job for over a year without a salary review, it’s possible that the organization doesn’t have a process in place for giving raises.
“Sometimes, you’ve just got to be bold and ask for it. Schedule a time with your manager and say, ‘I’d like to ask for an increase and here’s why,’ ” Trcka said.
In many cases, supervisors will appreciate you bringing it up, even if they can’t offer a raise immediately.
“The last thing they want you to do is get frustrated and leave before having the conversation,” Trcka said.
As you progress through your career, Trcka says you should ask future employers about the evaluation process so you’ll know how to approach conversations about raises down the line.
“Try to understand what they look for so you’re prepared,” she said.
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