Earn What You’re Worth: Salary Negotiation Techniques from Jim Hopkinson

                                                     Photo from jimhopkinson.com

I’ve been trying to think of a word to describe Jim Hopkinson. Genius was the first to come to mind, but that seemed too generic and dull for the magnificence that is Jim, so I went ahead and dug out my old-school thesaurus just to find the perfect word.

So, may I present Jim Hopkinson, the Virtuoso/Mastermind/Wizard of negotiation.

Jim has this great theory about negotiation, which he readily presented to those of us lucky enough to attend The Art of Negotiation: How to Earn What You’re Worth panel at Find & Follow Your Passion: Anyone, and I mean anyone, can learn to negotiate.  Which means that you can get the salary you want (or close to it) just by being confident in your ability…and doing just a little research and work.

“Don’t be scared to negotiate; it’s not hard. It’s not easy, but it’s not hard.” – Jim Hopkinson

First, a little background on Jim. Jim is a blogger, podcaster, speaker, author, and champion of salaries everywhere. He’s worked for Wired and ESPN, and currently owns his own business, Salary Tutor. He also writes about up-and-coming creatives, business happenings, and tips on how to get ahead in the world on his website TheHopkinsonReport.com.  Trust us, this guy knows what he’s talking about.

So here’s how to do it, according to Jim (ha):

Step 1: Do Your Homework.
A large part of negotiation is knowing where to start and where to stop. You don’t want to go into a negotiation situation and put out an offer that will be rejected outright. So do some research into what the normal pay-range is for a person in your position. Jim recommends using websites like Glassdoor.com and Payscale.com to see the average salary of your soon-to-be or current peers. Then, using an automatic graphing program, you can create a sample chart of, for example, your salary vs. the salary of past and present employees in a similar position. Bringing such a chart in with you to an interview or salary negotiation meeting will drastically improve the manager’s trust in your argument for better pay.

Step 2: Master The Negotiation Techniques.
-Get the opposition to talk first (note: in this article, “opposition” means kindly manager who has to look out for both your interests and the company’s.) Use these phrases: What kind of range did you have in mind? and What kind of range did you have budgeted for this position?  Getting them to name a price first takes a bit of the pressure off you and also makes them feel like they have most of the control in the negotiation; you can use this to your advantage. Also, use of the word “range” tends to make people use words like between, around, -ish, and about, as in “We have about $40,000 budgeted for this position.” With this, you can find out the low and high range of what they think the position is worth and you have a base to work off of.

-Don’t reveal what you’re currently making to a new employer. You don’t want them to compare their offer and your current salary, just in case they feel like they can offer less than they originally came prepared to offer if your current salary is low, or maybe that they could keep you at the same pay when you want to make more. Here’s how to avoid that question: I’m sorry, I can’t reveal what I make due to company policy, but what type of range did you have in mind?

-Silence is your friend. When there’s a long pause in the conversation, the party not initiating the silence usually feels inclined to break the awkwardness. Try contemplating the offer; for example, say the opposition offers you $38,000. You could say “$38,000…hmmm…” and just sit a think for a few seconds. Don’t let it go on for an excessive time, but just long enough where you could make the other person just a tad anxious.

-If you’re re-negotiating your salary at your current company, use gained experience as a way to boost your net-worth, especially if you were fairly in-experienced when you started (re: a recent college grad). Here’s a great line to use: When I took this job, I was right out of school and I was really just trying to get my foot in the door so I took whatever was offered to me. But now that I’ve been here a while and I’ve gained so much experience (feel free to list examples), I feel like I should get a bit more compensation.

Step 3: Own Yourself;  Be impressive, B-E Impressive.
Jim told us a surprising (although not too surprising) fact about potential employers: almost 75% of companies are required to do online research about (re: Google) a potential employee before they’re even brought in for an interview. That means 75% of the companies you send an application to will view your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and, if your name is associated with them, your Tumblr, Youtube, and other social internet accounts. But how do you make yourself stand out online in an age where social media self-marketing is a pre-requisite and not a plus? Jim passionately suggests buying your own domain name. And I don’t mean just any domain name, but YourName.com, a domain name that will not only come up at the top of the page in a Google search but will show your potential employers that you’re serious about self-marketing. Serious self marketing = respect. Respect = higher salary. Jim is so convinced that owning your own domain name will help you with your salary, he’s put his own money into setting up a website that will help you buy and create your own named website: getyournametoday.com. I set my own website up using getyournametoday.com as soon as I got home from the conference (stephanielippitt.com); it’s nothing too fancy, but after putting a visitor tracker on there, I noticed I was getting between five or six more visits per day on that site than on my LinkedIn profile (though hits on my LinkedIn profile also improved when I added my own website to the list). It’s a great way get some really inexpensive self-marketing, plus, how cool is it to say that you own your own name domain? Pretty darn cool.

Step 4: Practice.
Don’t go into a negotiation cold. Stand in front of a mirror, grab a friend, or a pet, or a sibling (which would be more helpful?) and practice. Confidence is key.

And remember, salaries aren’t the only thing that are negotiable. There’s vacation time, benefits, and schedule; Create the work life that works for you by negotiating.

Have you ever negotiated for a better salary? What techniques worked for you? Let us know in the comments.