Recently a couple of my friends switched jobs. It’s an interesting dance: You want to find a role which allows you to apply your skills in the best possible way, but also challenges and stretches you a bit, so that it doesn’t become boring. You want to find a company you like and can stand behind. And you want to find colleagues you like and can learn from.
Add to that the weird dance that is a salary negotiation and it all makes for quite a stressful process.
The one question I get asked more than anything is: How do I negotiate my salary?
Salaries can largely appear like arbitrary numbers plugged from thin air. You might have an idea what you need and want — based on your last salary, salaries you know your friends make, things you might have read online… And the same seems to be true for the other side of the table.
In my experience it is often unclear how a company comes up with a specific offer. I highly recommend asking a simple question in these cases:
“How did you come up with this number?”
Any good company will be able to answer this question (typically by referencing industry averages, benchmarks, etc). Should they not be able to give you a decent answer — you might want to reconsider the company, as I would be suspicious of a company which can’t explain their salary practices.
Also — once you understand how a company formed their point of view on salary, you much better understand your leverage points (e.g. you might see that your leverage might not be your base salary but bonus or intangibles such as working from home or other benefits).
Give this question a try and good luck with your next salary negotiation! :)