Negotiating for a salary can be a difficult subject. jobs.ac.uk Director (2005 – 2009) Andrew Gordon suggests these ten useful tips for success when in salary negotiations.
1. Overcome your anxieties
Many people squirm at the thought of salary negotiations. They can’t imagine asking for a better deal and will often accept the first salary that is offered. But you should overcome your anxieties and, like Oliver Twist, ask for more. Salary negotiations are a normal part of business. They’re nothing to be embarrassed about. Just think of it as establishing a fair relationship between you and your new employer.
2. Do your research
Forewarned is forearmed. Before you’re interviewed you should conduct salary research. Your goal is to understand what level of salary to aim for. There are a several ways to do this:
• Compare salaries in adverts for jobs (jobs boards are great for this)
• Check out salary surveys
• Contact people in the same job or industry and ask what companies should pay for this sort of work
3. Establish the minimum salary you would accept
This amount should be the lowest figure you’d accept. It should be noticeably higher than what you’re on now and give you enough ‘take home pay’ to cover all of your expenses.
4. Establish your target salary
This figure should be at least 10 – 15% higher than the minimum salary you’d be willing to accept (above). You could try aiming for even more, perhaps up to 20 – 25% more. But aim too high and you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the job. Sometimes you’ll be lucky. The employer may really want you and will offer you this higher amount without any negotiation! You will be, as the saying goes, ‘quids in’.
However, if the employer starts negotiating, your higher target figure will give you some margin to move. If you come down you should still end up with a salary at or higher than your minimum level.
You’re more likely to secure a higher salary from an organisation that is successful. The fact that the employer is recruiting should be a sign that the organisation is healthy. This may also mean that they can afford to pay you more.
Many salaries for jobs in London include a ‘London weighting’. This is extra money that helps offset the extra costs of living in the city. Unfortunately, in some areas of the country, perhaps in rural and sparsely populated places, salaries can be lower than average. Again, do your research and know the local jobs market.
Don’t be lured into a false sense of satisfaction by the top-line salary figure. Make sure you do your salary sums because you may have increased costs in your new job. For example, you may need to travel further to reach your new office or workplace. Indeed, the fact that you have to commute may lessen the appeal of the job itself.
You might lose out on other benefits too. Do you enjoy subsidised lunches in a staff restaurant that you won’t receive in your new position? Will you be working in a city centre with its tempting shops? Will you be part of an ‘evenings out’ office culture or lunch-time trips to the pub? Will you have to buy new clothes or will you get a uniform or clothing allowance?
Of course, the reverse can be true. Your new salary may not be as high as you’d like but there could be other benefits; a company car, free health insurance, gym membership or other perks. Never forget, however, that this is the wage you’re going to be living on. So the greater actual salary you secure the greater your financial security.
If you’re going to ask for more money then you’ll need to explain why you’re worth it. If you’ve been offered the job then you’ve already achieved this. Nevertheless, you’ll be more convincing still if you can explain how, by employing you, the organisation will either make or save money. Demonstrate this and the employer will be more confident that they can afford to pay you more.
If you think you’ll be nervous asking for more money then practise salary negotiations before the moment arrives. Try practising with a friend or family member. Your partner should play the part of the employer and be as tough as they can be. This will get you used to give-and-take negotiations and reveal any holes in your argument. Role-play can feel artificial. But keep doing it until your argument is clear and compelling.
You want to appear confident and knowledgeable in any negotiations to come. You want the interviewer to understand that they have a strong future member of the team in front of them. Do this and you’ll be off to a flying start from the first day in your new job.
Bear in mind that a good negotiation is when both parties come away still smiling. Many employers will be happy to negotiate with you. Indeed, they may respect you for having the confidence to ask. And as long as they can afford it, think you’re worth it and are making reasonable demands, employers will often agree to pay you more.
You’ll be delighted, proud of yourself and you’ll have more money in your back pocket each month. Remember, ‘fortune favours the brave’. Do your homework, practice your request, take a deep breath and ask the question, ‘Now, about the salary…’ Good luck!