Ask Jessie: How to negotiate a salary after giving a number during the interview

Dear Jessie,

I just got a job offer at an amazing company I love! The only issue is that I made the mistake of giving a salary range during the interview that doesn’t feel like it actually aligns with what I want. I was put on the spot and I kind of panicked and said the first thing that came to mind.

The salary also doesn’t seem to align with what’s standard for director level jobs in my area. Then again, they have been at their positions longer.

Am I screwed? Do I need to take it at the previously quoted salary or can I still negotiate?

Signed,

Kicking Myself

Dear Kicking myself,

You are not screwed! You can definitely still negotiate, but make sure to do it over the phone. It’s easy to say no when they don’t have a live person speaking to them.

If you know other directors in the area, I would ask for their salaries. If they feel touchy about it, do the “over/under” game. Basically, you give a number and ask if they make over or under that figure. Keep asking until you have an idea of where their pay is.

These directors might have been with their organizations longer, but it’s much easier to negotiate a salary than a raise. You truly don’t know—they might have started off with a salary closer to what you’re seeing than you think.

But how do you bring it up effectively?

Addressing it with the employer

Write an email and just say you have some questions about the position you would like to talk about. Once you’re on the phone, I would keep the reasons short and sweet:

“I know I gave X as a number initially, but since then I’ve done more research into the industry standard for people with this job and my level of experience. I believe Y is more appropriate.”

Side note: Make sure Y is $10k over what you feel comfortable asking for. Why? We all have a tendency to short-change ourselves. Best case scenario is they say yes. Worst-case? They say no and offer you the actual salary you want or a reasonable amount around it.

Don’t let fear stop you

Just like you can’t let fear stop you in an interview, you can’t let it stop you in negotiations. If they push back, hit them with all the details of what you’re giving up and stats for directors in the area.

They’re going to swear up and down that there’s room for negotiation on your salary down the line.

Don’t believe them.

It’s much harder to ask for a raise than negotiate a new salary.

If they react poorly to all of this, rest assured that this is how they’ll act when you want a raise, time off, or ask for any help whatsoever. This activity is just as much about you getting a feel for them as it is about them getting a feel for you.

Keep in mind

One more thing: YOU have the power now. It costs thousands of dollars to hire someone. Them meeting you on your salary expectations is cheaper than reposting the job and going through this process again.

Also, if in a future interview, someone puts you on the spot to ask about your salary expectations, use this phrase instead:

“I will accept any reasonable offer.”

Repeat it until you’re blue in the face if you have to. Ask them for the range for the position. Tell them you’re more concerned about your day-to-day activities and coworkers than you are money.

I don’t care WHAT you do, just do not give the first number.

In the future, if you’re looking for a job during the time of COVID-19, check out my free resources for job hunters or my self-guided intuitive job hunt and manifestation program, Empowered Networking.

Good luck! You’ve got this! 

Jessie Da Silva

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