IT Employment

Five tips for negotiating a raise

Bill Humbert, author of Recruiter Guy's Guide to Finding a Job, offers some advice on how to negotiate a salary.

"As people who have been looking for work a long time start to get back into the workforce, many of them are so happy just to get a job that they sometimes accept a lower salary than they have to," said Bill Humbert, author of Recruiter Guy's Guide to Finding a Job. "Some employers feel that they can probably get away with a low-ball offer, and many job hunters will grab it just so they can have a job. The truth is there are ways to get the job and still get what you want."

Humbert isn't a career coach, but rather his expertise comes from working the opposite side of the job stream as a recruiting consultant for corporations. He knows how companies calculate salary, and how to judge their thresholds. His advice for job hunters includes:

  • Don't offer salary requirements - When you are asked to include salary requirements with your resume, that is typically a company's first screen, and it can be used against you. I've seen people agonize over what to reveal, because they are afraid of pricing themselves out of a good job. My advice is to simply put "Open" in that spot. If your qualifications are on target, they'll call you. If in the interview you're asked what you made at your last job, reply by asking about the range for the one you are applying to. You'd be surprised how much managers or human resource representatives will tell you.
  • Don't give away too much - In many job applications, an employer will ask for your salary history. It is perfectly acceptable to write,  "Willing to discuss at appropriate time during interview process" and leave those numbers blank. Writing down those numbers pigeonholes you, and reduces your negotiation power.
  • Don't negotiate salary - That's right. Don't negotiate salary in the interviews. Instead, negotiate when you'll give them your salary requirements. When they ask you for that figure, tell them you don't know what you'd require until you have a clear picture of the job requirements and potential for advancement over the next five years. After you have that information, and you're asked again for that number, respond by asking to go through what I call your "impacts" - areas of your job that directly impact the company's bottom line. This discussion will allow you to demonstrate what you bring to the table. At the end of that discussion, simply tell them that you are very interested in the position, and that you'd seriously consider any offer they'd like to make.
  • Keep networking - Once you have a job offer, it's not a done deal until you accept it. Until that happens, keep networking and looking for jobs. It may give you valuable market-worth data about the position you've been offered. It may also be a safety net in case something goes awry between the time you receive an offer and the time you accept it.
  • Accepting the offer - Once an offer is given, you have the right to ask for a clarification on it. Asking, "Is there any flexibility in this offer?" may help to open a discussion of increasing the offer. If it does, don't expect a large boost in base pay, but rather, an extra week of paid vacation, a signing bonus, or other such perks.

"Keep in mind that salary negotiation is more art than science, so these tips may not always apply," Humbert added. "Many hourly workers don't have as much flexibility on pay, and some companies have policies that would require you to adjust the script a little to fit those situations. The key thing to remember is that you don't have to give them a salary range that would jeopardize your earning potential, and that you don't have to accept their first offer most of the time.

Remember that they are interviewing you because they need to fill that position. It's important to the company to have someone in that job, and while they are considering you, they aren't doing you a favor. They need what you have to offer, so you should get the best offer out of them that is possible."

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

18 comments
Jp54
Jp54

it's about a job interview and NOT negotiating for a raise. Not helpful TechRepublic!

reisen55
reisen55

INDIA is cheaper and American management ONLY sees IT as an expense, so any American worker is paid FAR more than an equivalent IT help desk drone in Bangalore at $2 an hour without health care benefits. Salary here is destroyed!!! If you HAVE an IT job here in this country, you could risk it easily by a raise request! You can be outsourced in a heartbeat. Believe that. And when a job description asks for salary, they are already parsing the applicants to include expensive ones out immed. I never discuss numbers directly.

ThePickle
ThePickle

Putting aside for a moment the fact that the title of the article has nothing to do with the body of the article, there's no other way to sum this up other than to describe it as being utterly retarded. It's obvious that Ms. Bowers has never been in a situation where she truly NEEDED a job. It's easy to sit back and play the role of armchair quarterback, but it's a totally different thing to BE the quarterback on the field. If you want to play hardball during the application process, take a wild guess as to what they're going to do. In all likelihood, they'll throw your application in the trash and move on to somebody who IS willing to answer their questions. I was once in an interview for a dream job, and I was stupid enough to follow this kind of advice as the article suggests. The manager asked me what I wanted for a salary, and I gave the usual B.S. answer of, "I'd be happy with whatever you feel somebody with my qualifications should receive". He simply smiled at my B.S. answer and said, "no, I need a figure". So rather than blow the entire interview, I thought about it for about 4-5 seconds, and gave him an exact figure which was about $10,000 LESS than what I would've been truly happy with. And you know what he did? He thanked me for coming in to the interview, and said if I wanted the job, I could start on Monday. Oh, and he also said my starting salary would be $10,000 higher than what I asked for because he felt I undercut myself when I gave him my figure. It was almost like he was reading my mind, and he was happy to give me what I deserved simply because I was the perfect candidate for the job. Bottom line: if you give them scripted B.S. answers, they'll skip over you and move on to someone who isn't being an annoying twit.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

This so subjective.the assumption is that you have optimized your skills match and established demand by showing demonstrable skills the buyer wants.The truth of the matter is this advice only applies to a small section of the workforce.Many job seekers will take a job where there is no skills match for economic reasons or seek to gain new skills as market demand for skills in the market changes.Clearly within companies my research produces only 30 % optimization of skills in the workforce creating such a demand curve.So be careful about such wide briefs!! Best advice is to do your homework on the employer,realistic market value of your skills,move to a position of specific skills or specific buyers match to potential employers to create value. However money is one building block of doing a job?

kprakah
kprakah

Nice article for negotiating a salary...WRONG TITLE.. Please review. You may be forgiven if you post an article about asking for a raise.

dhearne
dhearne

Remember, what the employer puts in the want-ad is their dream candidate. If they can find a guy that does everything from desktop support to data architecture for $15 and hour...great! Hopefully, no one is crazy enough to take that role, but that doesn't prevent the employer from asking for it. Also, IT employees have not been considered 'professionals' since the 80's. While I applaud individual efforts to counter the trend, it is a battle that has already been lost. We just press the buttons now.

ScarF
ScarF

This is not about getting a raise, but a job. Please, review the title and, maybe, you can still give us some hints on how to negotiate a raise. Thanks anyway.

duane_pittman
duane_pittman

...that the headline says "Five tips for negotiating a raise" but the article is five tips for negotiating a starting salary?

tripplec
tripplec

I agree with RockyMountainScot, when applying or even registering on Workopolis a range is required. Other as for various info and will NOT proceed to the next step unless completed. Accurately or not you have to fill in a lot of info. Some opportunities list the salary or hourly wage. I have seen jobs listed on some job boards listing skills as long as your arm, experience including Win 98 along with 2-3 years experience. Well unless you have 15 years or more you won't have that experience and likely not remember a lot about the dead OS. I just laugh and the other kicker with some of these same listings stating $13-$15/hr pay rate. Who are these companies. Many on Craigslist and others.

El_Guapo
El_Guapo

I disagree with not stating your salary expectations. You can spend weeks even months in the interview process which may include travel costs, time off work, etc. and only to find in the end the salary was much lower then you expected. So all your time and effort was wasted which you could have avoided it you knew the salary range in the beginning of the interview process. So as a rule from now on I always find the salary range for the position and if it meets my salary expectations i move forwarded with the interview process.

jm2
jm2

I have had [way too many -- over 100] conversations with recruiters and HR types who respond with "if you won't give me a salary requirement then this phone call is over." When one is unemployed for over 12 months there is no room to play around. My response is usually "Usual and normal for this position. What is your range for this position? That would be fine with me." Hey, I can always up the ante later based on geography, commuting costs, job responsibilities etc. But you HAVE to give an answer to be allowed to continue playing the game.

RockyMountainScot
RockyMountainScot

Oh yes, don't give anything away too early on salary, Ha! You've not experienced the web based application process. This nifty application form wants a number and not text, and if you put a "0" in the box, it will take it, but the system will not process your application. Good luck with finding a person to talk to. The old addage of networking to find the hiring manager is the only way this works. Oh yes, and then you'll be asked to fill out the web application form...

fhrivers
fhrivers

My standard answer to the salary question is "I haven't had a chance to look at the full range of responsibilities of the job and the benefits package so I'm afraid that I can't give you an accurate range. However, if you have a range earmarked for that position I can tell you whether or not it's in the ball park." 9 times out of 10 I get a range and I say, "That range sounds okay." I also don't mention specifics. Most of the time you negotiate salary with HR and not the hiring manager. So when you get the offer, you know the range and can just name a figure somewhere in the middle-top of the range.

Timbo Zimbabwe
Timbo Zimbabwe

I thoroughly disagree with this assessment. I do MUCH more than just press buttons. I have a larger impact on my organization and my pay reassures me of this. If all you're doing is data input and pressing buttons, either find a new job or learn new skills. If you don't, you'll only stagnate in that position and become irrelevant.....

acmp
acmp

It so annoys me when I click an article believing I'm going to read something relevant and you get a totally different article. I wish there was a thumbs down at the top so I could provide negative feedback, maybe then the titles would be better. How many job hunters didn't click the link because it didn't seem relevant to them? -1 TR, get your act together!

gjm123
gjm123

The web application... Stage 1 - upload your CV. Stages 2-14 - enter the details on your CV again, trying to fit them into the fields on the web application form. Stage 3 - read that if you've heard nothing in 8 weeks, your application was unsuccessful. I was always advised to seek feedback from the application process - not much chance of that, is there? As for salaries... Ask too much, and you'll not be considered. Ask too little, and you'll not be considered. If you quote a figure, you'd better be sure it is bang on what the company is looking to pay.

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

I have felt like the professionalism has been lacking from an employer's perspective in IT for many years now, I am trying to fight to preserve and keep the notion that I and fellow workers in this field are indeed professionals not some task robot. If the application and interview process becomes too robotic, in my opinion that is indicative of the way the company will think of it's employees and lack of respect for professionals, I will pass. That may be good for hourly, line workers, etc but not a good way to get the best of the best of the professionals out there.