Junior candidates often ask me about the best time to negotiate salary. My answer is always the same – at your annual review!
When you are fresh out of school or only have a couple of years of experience, negotiating salary is tricky and may very well make a negative impression on your potential employer. Once you receive an offer of employment, the salary has already been discussed by the decision makers and consensus has been reached. Unless you have a unique background with a highly specific blend of skills and experience – indispensable to the prospective employer – more often than not the company will not be open to re-negotiating your starting package.
Often candidates are struggling to understand why the offer they receive is not at the top of the original salary range. The answer is simple – budgets are not static and can change during the interview process. Clients are sometimes unaware of the job market and salary ranges. They may overestimate their budget for a new position, only to realize that there are many excellent applicants at a much lower salary range. Receiving an offer and reminding the client insistently that the original ad stipulated a higher range than what you are being offered, will win you no points.
Ultimately you have to ask yourself how interested you are in joining the company in question and how much you want the job. Think that it will add undeniable value to your resume? Be flexible and don’t put the offer in jeopardy by coming off as pushy and unreasonable. However, if the offer is nowhere near your cut off point in terms of salary, go ahead and mention to the hiring manager that you expected a different amount and ask if there is anything that can be done for you to reach it. Quite possibly, you will be told that the salary can be reviewed upon the end of your 3-month probation or at the end of your first year of employment. If you would rather not risk the offer, stop negotiating and revisit the situation once you prove your value to the company and your performance is reviewed.
During my career in recruitment, I have witnessed candidates lose their dream jobs trying to negotiate an extra $2,000 ($77 on a bi-weekly pay-check, minus the taxes). On the other hand, I have seen bright and eager juniors accept a lower salary to start and then receive a $10,000 – 15,000 increase within a year of employment.
Be strategic and do not miss out on an amazing opportunity just to prove a point!