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How to: Negotiate Salary

negotiate salary
​5 tips for getting what you're worth

Salary negotiation is one of the toughest parts of job hunting. The balance between getting paid what you’re worth and preserving your relationship with your future employer is a delicate one. Unfortunately, this means many people err on the side of caution, afraid to negotiate, and end up leaving money on the table. But despite what you might think, removal of job offers due to salary negotiations gone wrong is extremely rare, and a strong, well-prepared negotiating strategy can prove surprisingly valuable – literally. 

Go in prepared 

As you’d probably expect, it helps to know what you’re looking for before getting into the cut and thrust of negotiation. Do your research and familiarise yourself with industry salary trends. A good way to do this is to consult salary guides, usually put together by recruitment companies, which pull together salary levels from different professionals at similar levels and company size, to give a picture of what you should expect to be paid. 

Entering into the conversation, you should already know what your range is. What’s the minimum you’d take? What number do you view as a best-case scenario? Start at the latter and leave room for negotiation.

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Build your case

Your ability to negotiate effectively is considerably enhanced if you can back up your position with reasoning, rather than just responding to an offer with a higher number. 

Think of this as an extension of the interview process you’ve just been through – sell yourself. Why are you worth it? What are you bringing to the table? 

Knowing industry averages is useful here, in that you can reference them to justify pushing for a higher number, but first and foremost you should be looking to base your argument on yourself and your potential value to the company. 

Stay calm and positive 

This is crucial. Money is often an emotive topic, but you must always keep a cool head if you are to negotiate successfully. Demonstrating good negotiating skills and an ability to stay calm under pressure will boost your perceived value to your employer and increase your chances of landing an improved salary and making a good start to your new position. 

On the other hand, if you are overly emotional or aggressive during negotiations, it is likely to have the opposite effect. Barring a spectacular eruption, it is unlikely to result in the removal of your job offer, but you may well be undoing what was likely a considerable amount of work to create a positive image of yourself as an employee during the interview process. 

So keep your tone positive! Remember that this is your future employer and your relationship with them is important. It’s also good to keep in mind that the person sitting across the table from you is not just a corporate representative but also a human, and probably does not particularly enjoy the delicate business of negotiation either.

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Factor in perks and benefits 

Salary is not the only important part of your package. Think beforehand about what benefits are most important to you - if you sense limited flexibility on pay, it is possible that the company will be willing to make it up in other areas. These include:

  • L&D support – will the company pay for training courses to develop your skills or give you time off to complete them?

  • Flexible working – working from home or flexible working hours. 

  • Holiday days

  • Childcare benefits 

  • Company car/mobile phone

Know when to wrap it up

If the company won’t meet your minimum number, you need to be prepared to walk away. If you accept a role that doesn’t pay what you believe you are worth, this is likely to have negative effects on your happiness with the role. 

But if your minimum salary has been met, and you are attempting to get as close as possible to your best-case scenario number instead, do not draw out negotiations for too long. This may cast a negative shadow over the start to your relationship with the company and could impact career progression.

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