Nobody enjoys the thought of salary negotiation, but there are ways to make the process easier and increase your chances of achieving an ideal outcome.
Below you’ll find some insights from our team on the do’s and don’ts of salary negotiation, whether you’re going for a new job or asking for a pay rise from your current employer.
Negotiating salary for a job offer
The first thing to think about when negotiating salary for a job offer – is your timing. It’s unwise to bring up the topic of salary at the beginning of the first meeting with a prospective employer, while it’s a topic that needs to be discussed, it’s much better to cultivate a good relationship with them by leaving any talk about pay until you each have a better idea of what you require from one another.
When the topic is brought up and you’re asking for a higher starting salary than the current package, be prepared to back up your position with what value you will bring to the employer. It’s not enough to negotiate on the basis that it’s what someone else is earning, or what the market is paying. You need to make a good case for it based on your own skills and achievements. Be prepared with a list of the attributes you can bring to the role that set you apart from your competitors, backed up with examples and evidence. If you can prove to the employer that you will be more of an asset to their organisation than expected, they are likely to consider your request.
It’s also worth speaking to your network to find out what competition you face, and what the skills shortages are in your area. If a company has a specific need for a particular set of skills or staff in a regional location, and you fit the profile, you can use this information to strengthen your bargaining position.
However, if the potential employer comes back with a lower offer, it’s important not to take it personally, or seem ungracious, as this could sour your future relationships with the organisation and the hiring manager. Instead, try to find out if there are any other benefits that could be offered in lieu of more pay, such as income protection/salary continuance, bonuses, pay reviews etc. This will make your overall salary package more valuable.
Asking for a pay rise
When asking for a pay rise, don’t spring it on your employer randomly. It’s best to wait until your performance review is due, or your employment circumstances change, such as a promotion or increased responsibility.
Be open about the fact that you are asking for a pay rise, have a grasp of what the industry is paying, and be realistic in what you are asking for. You should also be prepared to give your employer time to think it over. It’s never a good idea to make ultimatums such as threatening to leave if you don’t get a pay rise, as they may call you on it. Even if they don’t, ultimatums are confrontational and being so they will harm your relationship and weaken your bargaining position.
It’s important to be able to justify why you feel you deserve a salary increase. If you’ve taken on increased responsibility, achieved a particular success on a project or completed additional training/education, these should be given as reasons. This will be viewed much more favourably than bringing in negative emotions such as “I’m not happy with my pay” or “Joe Bloggs gets X”. This can make it sound as if you don’t want to be there. It’s much better to keep the discussion positive and focus on how you have been performing, and what value that brings to the company and its performance.
Whether you’re negotiating salary for a new job or an existing one, it’s vital to ask rather than demand. Know your worth – but be prepared to prove it!