Most new hires make mistakes in negotiating their salaries. Most veterans are just excited to have a job after leaving the military. Others don’t want to offend their new employers by saying their offer isn’t good enough.

It’s important to remember that a salary negotiation doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, a good negotiation leaves everyone happy and more motivated.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas to consider when negotiating a desired salary with a new employer. Keeping these in mind will help ensure you reach that happy medium.

1. Money Isn’t Everything

But it’s something. While many companies have a set benefits package that includes vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, retirement plans etc., others may be willing to bargain with those items. If salary is the most important thing, consider what you’re willing to give up to get a pay bump.

If one or more of those benefits is more important to you, then consider how you can get more of that. Be sure to find out how much is on the table to be negotiated.

2. Timing Is Important

If an employer offers you a job and you don’t have to accept right away, give yourself time to think it over. Feeling rushed in front of an employer’s desk isn’t going to help you consider what you need to do the job. Sleep on it if you can — even if it’s just a nap.

Call the employer back late in the day and revisit the offer. Then, start negotiating your salary. They’ve been at work all day, while you’ve been thoughtfully considering your new needs and resting, giving you an advantage.

3. Do Your Research

If you even suspect you might be offered the job during the next interview or you’ve already received the offer and now you’re going for the salary negotiation, take your time and consider your needs, career goals and what people make in comparable jobs across the industry — not just what you need.

You also should be aware of the skills, experience and intangible benefits you bring to the job. Do this calculus before getting to the office. Knowing what you’re worth can help ensure you get paid what you’re worth.

4. Ask Questions

This works best if you’ve researched the industry and know what salaries, benefits and other expectations are common. It also works best if you have a thorough understanding of what your experience brings to the role. If they begin with an offer that sounds like a lowball, it probably is. This is the chance to ask questions.

If they offer few benefits or a small benefits package compared to the industry — or are offering very little for someone with your expertise — walk them through their own math and the compensation data you researched and ask how they can be competitive with those offers. Then, counteroffer.

5. Silence Is (Literally) Golden

MWI, a Boston-based mediation firm, notes that silence provokes a response because most people are uncomfortable with it. But silence also implies confidence, strength and a willingness to listen. If the person on the other side of the desk isn’t saying what you want to hear, err on the side of silence.

Silence is a kind of pressure that forces the other person to begin to fill in the gaps, perhaps revealing more information than they intended.

6. Reveal Your Value

When discussing your future role and the compensation you want for that role, make sure the HR professional across from you knows exactly what they’re getting by hiring you. If you think your skills and experience will help you excel, let them know. If you think your military experience can bring new efficiency to the workplace, tell them that too.

They already want to hire you for the job. If you are asking for more money in a salary negotiation, be sure to let them know why you are worth that much, even if it means going into detail. A plumber doesn’t have to explain to a customer with a broken toilet how much they’re worth, but a management executive might.

— Blake Stilwell can be reached at He can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell or on Facebook.

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