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5-min read
February 16, 2022

Want a Higher Salary? Start with These 3 Negotiation Prep Tips

There’s only one wrong way to negotiate a higher salary: to not do it at all.

Employers expect negotiation. It’s baked into the hiring process, so if you don’t do it, they’re surprised.

But it’s not something we do naturally or like doing — people don’t like talking about money. The good news is you can build the skills you need to negotiate and feel comfortable in negotiation, so that you can get what you truly deserve.

1. Understand the market

Whether the employer or job seeker has the advantage

Understanding the difference between an employer's and a job seeker's market, and which type of market you’re in now, can help you frame your negotiations by giving you a deep understanding of how risky your negotiation may be.

What is an employer's market? In an employer’s market, there are many more workers than jobs available, and so employers have the advantage when it comes to hiring and negotiating. Less competitive compensation packages are an unfortunate outcome, as companies find that employees are willing to take less over nothing at all.

What is a job seeker's market? In a job seeker’s market, there are more job openings than workers to fill them. As a result, we see a wave of companies that are willing to pay up, and pay well, as they vie with each other to attract talent.

Evaluate titles and salaries

Because the community industry is still emerging and crystalizing, titles can feel inconsistent from company to company. There are some things to keep an eye out for when evaluating roles that can give you a sense of what the work will be like, where the growth paths might go, and how much community is valued by the company.

Company size and stage: If the company is in its early stages with community, you might be their first community hire. If the company is larger and already has a community team, you’ll start to see layers of differentiation for specialized roles within community. Read the job description and remember that titles, like all other parts of the compensation package, are negotiable.

Research current professionals: You can find community professionals on Twitter, in online communities, and all over LinkedIn. They’re speaking at events, sharing knowledge in their writing, and even hosting free courses. In general people are happy to chat about their work, what it is, and whether they feel their title is the right one for their role.

Salaries in the industry: The easiest facet of compensation packages to find is often salary. As a start, you can find self-reported salaries in The Community Club’s open repository of community salaries. Remember that salary is only one part of a compensation package. We’ll discuss other elements of the package — which might be negotiable — below.

2. Understand your value

Reflect on what you need

Think deeply about what you need, what will make you feel fulfilled, and what will allow you to thrive and grow. Write all of this down. Unlike your compensation package, what you write on this list is actually non-negotiable. It might contain both financial needs as well as things that will enable your growth and happiness but aren’t necessarily measurable in a monetary value, such as mentorship, projects, or leadership opportunities.

Evaluate your skills

Take an honest assessment of your skills, experience, and value you bring to the table. Be thorough here: you might have skills and knowledge that weren’t specified in the role, but that add value. The more alignment you drive between your experience/skills and the roles you’re applying for, the easier it will be to negotiate.

venn diagram of finding the right fit for your skillset while negotiating a higher salary

3. Consider the big picture

Think beyond base salary

Companies are getting more creative about employee benefits these days, and so you might see everything from health care to unlimited nitro cold brew advertised on a recruiting website. You can negotiate beyond the base salary on these benefits and equity as well.

Benefits: These might include health insurance, retirement accounts and matching, paid leave, office and technology stipends, wellness funds, childcare and/or dependent care resources, and more.

Equity: If you’re dealing with a startup or a company that has gone public, then securities will likely be part of your compensation package. There are different financial instruments at play here, so you might hear about ESOPs, ESOWs, options, stocks, shares, equity, RSUs, or even phantom shares.

Highlight your value add

This can be daunting, but the goal is to intentionally build the sense in everyone that you speak with that you’re going to be a major contributor going forward. If done correctly, the mindset for both you and the company will shift away from a raw dollar cost amount to an ROI conversation: if you give me this much, I’ll provide that much value.

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Negotiation can be particularly difficult in an ever-evolving industry like community. How do you evaluate if an offer from a company is appropriate and fair? When’s the right time to negotiate a change in your compensation package?

This article is an extract from Negotiation for Community Professionals, a self-paced course by C School. In it, students can expect to learn how to make sense of the job market, understand the value you bring to a company, and most importantly, reflect on what you need to feel valued for the work that you do.

This course is available for free for those who fill out our Community Job Survey! Anonymously share your salary information in our brief survey on our enrollment page, and we'll give a 100% discount coupon upon submission.

Level up with self-paced courses from C School

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How long will it take? 1-2 hours

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Negotiation for Community Professionals

Negotiation can be particularly difficult in an ever-evolving industry like community. How do you evaluate if an offer from a company is appropriate and fair? When’s the right time to negotiate a change in your compensation package? Led by Brian Oblinger, seasoned community consultant with over 20 years of experience in the industry, this course will guide you through how to make sense of the job market, understand the value you bring to a company, and, most importantly, reflect on what you need to feel valued for the work that you do.

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Community operations is an emerging but important field in the community space. While operations roles have been around, community specializations are only now starting to crystallize and grow. So what’s community ops all about? This course is a deep dive into the world of commops, taught by industry expert Tiffany Oda, the Director, Community Operations at Venafi.

How long will it take? 10-15 hours

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The C School Team
February 16, 2022

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