While money isn't everything, planning for salary discussions and negotiations should be an important part of your job search preparation. Your executive recruiter should be walking you through every step of this process. Following are six steps to help you negotiate a higher starting salary.
Step One: Know your worth in the marketplace.
The key to any successful salary negotiation is information, so do your homework to assess your competitive value. Find out from your recruiter what salary range the client company is looking to hire within. Do some research on your own and find out the pay range for the level of restaurant management you’ve obtained. Once you know the going salary range, take into consideration your skills, education, experience and any unique value (are you relocatable, bilingual, etc?) you bring to the prospective employer to see where you would rank within that range.
Step Two: Don’t be the first to mention money!
Give a salary figure to a hiring authority too soon and you risk either being disqualified because it's too high or judged under qualified because it's too low. Even if you do pass that screening question, having given the potential employer your bottom line immediately limits your ability to negotiate a higher salary later in the process.
If asked your salary requirements in an interview, it’s wise to respond with something like this: “I feel like I’m the right person for the job, if you feel the same, I’m sure you’ll make an offer that’s both fair and attractive.”
If you are asked your salary requirement as part of a phone screen, politely ask what the salary range is for the position. If they won't schedule an interview unless you give your salary requirements, tell them your requirements depend on a variety of factors including job content, health benefits, bonuses, commissions or profit sharing arrangements, training and advancement opportunities. Then give a very wide range. The point is to get past this point and get an interview!
Step Three: Disclose your current earnings honestly.
Fearful of letting their current salaries limit their future income, some restaurant manager candidates inflate their earnings. They do this at their own peril. Today, companies conduct more rigorous background checks -- some even ask to see W-2s! It's not uncommon for potential candidates to be eliminated for being less than straightforward about their salary history, including bonus.
If at all possible, your best bet is to avoid divulging your current salary until you've had a chance to demonstrate why you are worth more. Ask your recruiter how he/she handles this point with the client concept.
Step Four: Never accept or negotiate an offer on the spot.
No matter how good it sounds (or how desperate you are), never commit to or discuss an offer with the potential employer until you've had time to talk to your recruiter and to thoroughly consider it, even if it initially sounds too low. When you receive the offer, thank the employer and restate your desire to work for the organization, and then tell them you’d like time to think it over.
This is a point at which your management recruiter becomes very valuable, if they’re worth their salt! Discuss with him/her what the advancement opportunities are and how and when your performance and salary will be reviewed. Make sure to evaluate the entire compensation package including health and welfare benefits, vacation days, sick days, paid holidays, 401k match, tuition reimbursement and company car, as well as other non-monetary elements.
Step Five: Don't be afraid to ask for more.
You have nothing to lose by asking your recruiter to see what the company can do to bring you closer to your desired salary. In some cases the hiring manager has discretionary power to go 10 to 20 percent above the highest figure he or she mentions to get an exceptional candidate; besides, good managers often start low to give themselves negotiating room.
If they are firm on salary, it's sometimes possible for your restaurant executive recruiter to help you to negotiate some other aspect of the offer such as benefits, vacation or other incentives. Studies show the majority of employers are flexible on at least some element of the compensation package.
Step Six: Know when to stop.
During negotiations, the typical response to your counter proposal will be either to accept some of your terms or to refuse to negotiate at all. If the employer has stopped responding to your counter proposals or making concessions, it's time to end the negotiations and consider the current offer on the table. Your recruiter should know when they have reached that point.
Remember, you don't want to prolong a salary tug-of-war at the expense of losing the employer's goodwill -- or their offer. If you and your management recruiter have determined it’s the right opportunity for you, graciously accept the offer, start preparing your resignation letter, and most importantly, do not fall into the counteroffer trap with your old employer!
Brian Bruce, author of multiple articles published on many websites and several industry trade publications, has been cited in multiple news stories as an authority in Executive Restaurant Recruiting. He's an Executive Restaurant Recruiter with Premier Solutions in Oklahoma City and Blogger. He can be reached at 877-948-4001, by email at HeadHunterBrian@gmail.com , or on his blog at HeadHunterBrian.com .