Let’s get down to business. We’ve looked at revamping our portfolio. We’ve learned how to grow our network and rely on connections to find motion design gigs. In this article, we'll look at how to navigate the interview process, research compensation, and negotiate an awesome salary.
Delay Compensation Until the End
As you begin interviewing and talking with companies, they might ask you what you’re thinking for compensation. Try to hold off on giving a number until they give you an official job offer. Just tell them you want to discuss it later if the job is a good fit.
Try to Get Multiple Job Offers
This is easier said than done, but it makes a huge difference if you can pull this off. Many companies actually expect you to be interviewing with other employers. If you get a callback from a company, don’t stop applying for jobs.
If you see an opening that’s not your dream job, still apply. The point is to get as many competing offers on the table as possible. This will go a long way when you enter the negotiation phase.
Remember that you’re interviewing someone else just as much as they’re interviewing you. You don’t want to come in desperate, you want to find a good fit. This has to work for both parties involved.
If you’re interviewing for a full-time role, you might have more than one interview or meeting before you get a job offer. Write out and rehearse things ahead of time. Don’t try to wing it. There’s a lot of cliche’ advice around this out there already, so I’ll try to jump to the cut: write out your background / history. Think of your background as a narrative - not just bullet points of where you’ve worked.
Plan to have an answer on why you want THIS job specifically. Is it an area of interest? Are you excited by the work that the company is doing? Looking to shift and focus on something new?
Ask Quality Questions
This is cliche, but I’ll say it anyway - asking questions about a company is just as important as how you answer their questions. Write down specific, quality questions to ask ahead of time.
Research the Hell Out of Compensation
I’ve said this before - but don’t rely on Glassdoor for accurate info. Try talking to former employees or people with more experience who can tell you what to expect for compensation. Always shoot for whatever’s considered the high-end.
Have a Number in Mind
After you do research, come up with a salary range to shoot for. My biggest mistake in the past has been underpricing and undervaluing myself. Always aim for the top of pay band. You ARE worth it, but you have to ask for it.
Negotiate the Offer
Once you do get an official offer, they’re going to want to know what you expect for compensation. Say, “I trust that you’ll be able to make an offer that aligns with my experience and skillset.” and leave it at that. You want to have a number in mind but don’t want to be the first to say it.
If they come in lower than you expected, you can say the following, “I appreciate the offer and I’m excited that you want to work together, however, based on my research, the range for this role is closer to $X - $Y, and I believe that with my experience, I come in at the high end of that range.”
Hopefully, they’ll be willing to work with you on this. If not, you can try negotiating for other things, depending on the company policy. These could include extra days off, company stock, more flexible hours, etc. And always ask if they’ll agree to revisiting a conversation for a raise later at a specific date.
Sometimes, the biggest hurdle when it comes to compensation are your own beliefs about yourself. Here’s some common misconceptions. I’ve struggled with all of these myself.
“If I ask for too much, they’ll rescind their offer.”
Companies won’t withdraw a job offer because you ask too much. The worst they can do is tell you what the max is and leave it at that. They’re not going to ditch you and leave you on the spot because you asked for too much.
“I don’t want to be greedy. I should be thankful that I have a job offer.”
Aiming for high compensation isn’t greedy, it’s a part of the process. You can be professional and polite, but still negotiate.
“If I ask for the top of the band, they’ll expect more out of me and will fire me faster.”
Companies expect you to perform well whether you’re at the bottom or top of your pay band. Making more won’t necessarily put you at higher risk for getting fired.
“Maybe I can ask for a reasonable salary now and they’ll give me a raise later when they see how good I am.”
It’s 10x easier to negotiate upfront before you accept a job, vs once you’re already an employee. Get what you want when you come in the door.
• Delay the conversation around compensation until you get an offer.
• Try to bring competing offers to the table. Keep looking for other opportunities even if you have interviews scheduled.
• Practice interviewing. Have a crisp answer prepared for important questions. Don’t just wing it.
• Asking good questions is just as important as giving good answers.
• Do in-depth research on compensation. Try talking to previous employees. Dig deep on private forums and chat groups. Don’t rely on only one source.
• Have a number in mind when they come back with an offer.
• Let them give out the first number and go from there.
• Learn to value yourself! Don’t talk yourself out of aiming higher because you’re worried how it will come off. This has been my biggest mistake in the past.