How Much Salary Negotiation Is Too Much?

Negotiating a salary is a tough balancing act.  You don’t want to settle for too little, but you don’t want to price yourself out of a job either. So how do you know when it’s advisable to accept an offer, and when you should continue the negotiation? Here are some basic rules of thumb.

salary negotiation

1. Respect The Line

If the hiring manager has stated firmly that the company cannot go above a certain amount, do not try to cross the line more than once. For example, if they offer you $120,000 and you counter with $130,000, you might be told the absolute limit is $125,000. There’s nothing wrong with testing that limit one time—perhaps asking for $127,000. But if the hiring manager emphatically states $125,000 is the maximum, don’t try to push it any further. Accept the $125,000. If you continue to try to exceed a definitively established limit, it makes it seem as if you don’t trust what you’re being told. This is not the best way to start a working relationship and chances are, you’ll end up with that salary anyway.  

2. Set A Target Range

If you go into a salary negotiation with an exact number in mind, you may find yourself fighting a losing battle. It’s much better to have a range in mind, so you can be flexible without feeling like you’re caving in. If you’ve told yourself you won’t accept the job unless you get at least $100,000, and the negotiation starts off much lower than that, you’ve backed yourself into a corner. However, if you have a target range—such as “around $90-100,000” or “as close to $100,000 as possible”—you can still focus on your goal without being so inflexible you end up starting your job search all over again.

3. Do Your Research

One of the worst things you can do is go into a salary negotiation demanding random numbers. You need to know what people in your position usually make, based not only on the job itself, but also on what you bring to the table. The amount of leverage you have, based on experience, education, success stories, and the like, will definitely impact how much money is reasonable to demand. By researching the approximate amount you should be asking for, you’ll be able to defend your position and remain strong.

4. Weigh Salary Against Benefits

The salary negotiation process is not just about your actual paycheck. If you’re at a standstill with salary, try swapping out some benefits. For example, if they refuse to go above $80,000 on salary, make a counteroffer in which you’ll accept that amount if they add two more weeks of paid vacation, or upgrade your health insurance. That way, you can respect their limits but still get closer to the amount you're looking for.

5. Do Not Anticipate A Fixed Number Of Rounds

You may have been told you should always make at least two or three counter offers before accepting a salary. Some recommend even more rounds of negotiation. However, every situation is different. If you’re happy with the second offer, there’s no need to push beyond that. In fact, even if the first offer is more generous than you were anticipating, there’s no law that says you can’t accept it. At the same time, if you get the feeling the hiring manager is expecting multiple rounds of negotiations, step up to the challenge. Trusting your instincts is a much better way to get the salary you want than telling yourself you won’t accept the first two offers no matter what.

There’s no denying salary negotiation can be tense. That’s why some people want to get it over with as quickly as possible. But moving too quickly through the process can result in you cheating yourself. Dragging it on too long, on the other hand, can set a bad tone, or even cause the employer to back out.  Finding the right balance by following the advice given here should help eliminate many of these obstacles.

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