Having been a recruiter for 25 years, I can tell you that nothing causes people more anxiety than salary negotiation. Deciding to make a job change and progressing through the interview process is stressful enough, but having to negotiate a new compensation package for yourself causes even more apprehension. One of the main issues that causes anxiety is that the candidate has no idea what the hiring managers or company has budgeted for the position before the negotiations begin.

A new law in New York City went into effect last year that states neither an external recruiter nor a company representative may ask you what salary you are making with your current employer. The law in effect balances the negotiations from a candidates perspective, because the employer has no idea of the candidates current compensation. The potential employer may only ask what your desired compensation for the position is. However, this still leaves the problem of negotiating for yourself with a recruiter or a representative of a company. So, how do you do it?

If at all possible, one suggestion is to try to negotiate with the hiring manager rather than the HR person. The hiring manager will have influence over some aspects of the offer, and will also have to live with you as an employee every day, meaning theyll have a vested interest in trying to make you happy with the company offer.

These are some rules that you should understand and followfor a successful salary negotiation:

  1. Understand that negotiations start before the end of the interview process. Knowing how to conduct yourself throughout the process is a factor in the end result.
  2. Know your floor and ceiling before you start. Floor is lowest number you would accept and ceiling is the number you want to push towards that would make you ecstatic with your new base salary or total compensation. Compensation can come in many forms, including the below options.
  • Base salary
  • Bonus (sign on and/or end of year)
  • Vacation time
  • Health care, Vision, and Dental
  • Long term or Disability Insurance
  • Investment or Retirement Contributions
  • Work from home or Commute reimbursement
  • Education reimbursement or inclusion
  1. When it comes to base salary, do not be afraid to ask for what you want, or even a bit more. Repeat to the hiring manager where your strengths align with the position and why you think you would be a good addition to their team.
  2. Ask what kind of a bonus they expect to pay if you perform in your position up to their expectations, or if you exceed them.
  3. Would they be willing to put that number in an offer letter? What about guaranteeing the bonus? What about setting an expectation that is in the offer letter?
  4. Ask for the vacation time you have in your current position plus one week. If they reject an increase on base salary or bonus, shoot for more time off for yourself. Managers may allow you to take extra time, even if unofficially.
  5. Ask for a higher tier of health, vision and dental coverage, especially if there is no other room to get a higher salary or bonus. This can add up to a real benefit.
  6. Find out what type of retirement or investment vehicles they have that are pre-tax or tax free, and ask for a larger contribution on behalf of the employer.
  7. Negotiate for time that you may work from home. It saves time, energy and money for both you and the employer. Some employers have commuting cards that can pay for your commute.
  8. If you are planning to continue your education and go for a masters or a professional certification, find out if the company will pay for it entirely, contribute towards the cost or reimburse part of the expense.

One final piece of advice, do not agree to anything that you are going to be disappointed with in the long run. Neither you nor the employer want a disgruntled person in their group.