Negotiations make both parties feel better. If a company offers you 80K and you accept it without negotiating, they will wonder if they could have gotten you for 70K. This may leave them questioning whether they got a good value. Negotiating makes everyone feel they got the best deal possible. Consider this… if you ask for 95K, and they counter with 90K (and you accept), they will think they got a better deal than if they offered and you accepted 85K without negotiating.
Your perceived value will increase if you negotiate. What value do you add? Use that as a negotiation tool. But do not make the process adversarial. Make sure you acknowledge any concerns they have about your skills, experience, value, but then convince them and provide examples of how you add value and fill the needs they have.
If salary is not flexible, try to negotiate for other things like more vacation, working fewer hours, working from home, new equipment. Don’t forget signing bonus, stock shares and stock options. Read the fine print, not just because you should, but because it shows that you care about the details, and that send a positive message about what kind of person/employee you are.
Be sure to do your research and know what a fair market salary is for the position based on location, size of company, industry. Try to avoid being the first to say a number, especially early on in the process. You can redirect with statements like “I’m sure we can come to an agreement on salary when that time comes, but right now I’m more interested in learning more about the position and figuring out if it is a good fit for both of us.” If you do say a number later on in the process, make sure it is higher than what you are willing to take.
Notes from Pro Skills:
When they say a number, validate (great, I’m excited about working with you, love the team, company, etc).
Come back with a range. If you are happy with salary, still come back with range (5-10K) starting at 5K more than their number.
Ask what is the flexibility of salary. What salary do you have in mind for this position? How much is budgeted for this position? If they are not flexible on salary, what things are they flexible on such as vacation time, signing bonus, equity, remote, Fridays off, revisiting salary increase in 6 months.
If they question your value (junior position, entry level), ask for opportunity to demonstrate your skills in the form of a coding challenge or small task.
Validate again. Say you want to learn more about position, compare with other offers. Show appreciation and say that you are certain you can come to an agreement on compensation.