Being Smart About Salary Expectations

Being Smart About Salary Expectations
December 6, 2022 Construction People

If salary is your main motivator, that’s fine, but there are a few things you’ll need to consider in the process. You won’t get more salary, just because you want more salary. Let’s first look at the issue of salary assumption affecting expectations, and considerations of long-term sustainability / budget constraints. Then we’ll move on to how you can best meet your salary expectations the smarter way.

smart salary expectations

Don’t price yourself out

Currently, many assumptions are being made about what other people are earning based on exceptions to the rule, and there’s a real risk of overestimating what the market actually is. Our advice is to show caution over gold-plating your value based on these assumptions, as you could be pricing yourself out of some great opportunities. Instead, there are smarter ways to approach salary negotiation, which we will delve into further below.

Long-term sustainability

It’s also good to remember that even though we’ve been in a booming market, historically, crashes follow every boom. The bigger the boom, the bigger the crash. It’s cyclic, and many businesses factor that into their business and budget plans. They may be thinking, how can they pay excessive salaries in 12 months or 24 months when the market will inevitably change from what it is now? Will costings be sustainable long-term within their business forecasts? This is especially true when considering small to mid-tier builders who may not be able to afford it.

So, what is the best approach to salary negotiation?

Salary negotiation – the better approach

It would help if you justified your salary expectations by articulating your value. It’s not enough to negotiate solely on the basis of “it’s what someone else is earning” or what the market is paying. Rather you should stipulate what you uniquely bring to the table. Remember, an employer will judge you according to what others do in the same role, and these people will all have similar skillsets and responsibilities to you.

So, this is where you need to point out what makes you worth more than them beyond the standard role requirements. Again, it’s best for you to use real performance-related arguments. For example, talk about how on your last project, you achieved ‘XYZ’ and how exactly that benefited the company, or how you exceeded your role requirements by completing ‘ABC’ tasks.

You can do this by keeping notes throughout the year of as many relevant examples of your achievements as possible.  When gathering examples, try and mix them up with multiple types, such as examples showing how you saved the company money, problem-solving examples, examples where you have shown initiative, and even examples of where clients gave you positive feedback. You can also incorporate some broader examples that have benefited the company, such as helping to develop an internal system or participating in a company programme like a leadership course, or any other external training that has improved your skills beyond the norm. It is the range and quantity of examples that show you add value to your project, your immediate colleagues and then the business as a whole that will make it very hard for them to not see how you have increased your value.

If you’re negotiating with an existing employer, a good argument could be to mention the extra responsibility you’ve taken on since your last review. Be clear about the tasks you weren’t doing a year ago but are doing now. For example, as a CA, you took on some extra responsibilities of a PM. So, anything pointing to where you’ve extended yourself beyond your current role would be a fair way to raise your value and explain why you feel you should earn more.



The best time to raise your salary is in your performance review or when the responsibilities of your role change. Be prepared to give your employer time to think it over.

Negotiating benefits

Not all is lost if the employer genuinely can’t meet your salary expectations, for example, due to budget constraints. It’s worth finding out if there are any other benefits that could be offered instead. Make a list before the interview of what other benefits may hold value for you if a salary increase can’t be achieved. A benefit covers more than just the standard package on offer. An example could be additional annual leave which can make your overall salary package more valuable. To find out how best to prepare, refer to our article ‘Top Tips for Negotiating Benefits‘.

The takeaway

Allow yourself some flexibility so that you can benefit from opportunities. Be realistic about your expectations. Yes, research the market, but don’t fall into the trap of making assumptions about the going rates. Ensure that your research is accurate and you are not acquiring skewed information from people who are getting the exception to the rule. And articulate the additional value that you bring not only to the role but to the business. This will make for a strong argument. The main emphasis should be on explaining why you’re successful in your job, how you add value and listing your achievements. Watch your timing and stay positive. Also, arm yourself with a list of backup benefits in which you would find value if you can’t achieve a salary increase.

Looking for your next construction job? Search our current construction roles here, or to chat to our team about securing your next opportunity, get in contact with us through our Contact Us page.

Receive our updates straight to your inbox

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.