For most of us, negotiating a new offer may be a very uncomfortable process, but if handled well a little discomfort may be a price worth paying. This is normally your best chance to increase your earnings and advance your career.
Evidence clearly shows that moving to a new employer offers you the greatest chance of enhancing your earnings as well as your learning. The average salary increase you can expect to make when changing employers is 10-15%. Very few employers will offer that sort of increase to retain a valued employee.
The killer question – “What salary/package are you looking for?”
This is often asked very early on in the interview process. An open discussion where you disclose your expectations may seem the natural way forward and the best ploy to avoid wasting time. Remember though that at this stage of the process you are probably one of a number of candidates being considered for the job and “unreasonable” salary expectations are a major reason for rejection. The bargaining pendulum at this stage weighs very heavily in favour of the interviewer.
Use your judgement but try hard to avoid direct discussion of salary until an offer is being made. Give the impression that money is not important – that you’ll carry out the role for nothing! Only after the interviewer has extended a formal offer does the bargaining pendulum swing in your favour and only then is it appropriate to make your demands known. Interviewers respect tough negotiators as long as you can justify what is being asked for.
The Offer itself
The first step to negotiating the right salary is to conduct some research into the salary package you would expect, as well as looking at salaries of similar roles in your location.
You’ve done the hard work and you’ve earned your job offer. The main question now is do you accept the first offer made to you by the interviewer or do you hold on and push for a higher salary. If the offer meets your expectations, job done – you may feel that trying to negotiate a higher offer might jeopardise a successful outcome and that usually is the right decision.
What is a reasonable salary expectation?
Before negotiating your salary, you will need to determine the lowest acceptable. Let’s face it, there are some businesses and some roles for which within reason you’d adjust your expectations greatly for. But when push comes to shove, where should you pitch yourself?
Do your research. Firstly, check the job boards and plethora of salary surveys available to see what similar jobs command. Take into account the size and profitability of the business. You may be prepared to accept the bottom end of this range and still be able to live comfortably or you may decide that you are worth to the business. If you’re particularly well-qualified or experienced, you may well expect to receive higher than average market rates.
Try to remain realistic, if your number is higher than any package you’ve researched, you’re probably expecting too much. No matter how underpaid you are at the moment, if your salary expectations are unrealistic you will seem unreasonable. Push for a 15% increase by all means but if this still seems too low for you, have that conversation about what you have to do to earn more than this in the future. Nobody respects a pushover but equally nobody likes greed.
Don’t forget the benefits
While your basic salary may seem like the main focal point, it is important to consider other important benefits i.e. Holiday allowance; pension; health care; company car; re-location services; flexible working options or free gym membership etc. Don’t confirm your acceptance without taking into account your full package as the lack of these perks may impact your future happiness at work later.
Negotiating your Salary
After receiving your prized and hard-earned job offer, don’t act too hastily in accepting or rejecting it – take time to evaluate the figure offered. Set a timescale – time and date when you will get back to the company in order to deliver your decision.
If appropriate, explain why you feel you should be paid more. Ask if there is any flexibility in the offer, and how regularly the company will conduct salary reviews. If the salary is below your lowest salary expectation, explain what salary you were expecting and back it up with why. In the event of being offered your highest salary, you’ll probably want to discuss room for future growth in earnings and career development; remember, although this is the most you can negotiate as a starting salary there will be opportunity to earn more as you demonstrate your worth.
There are a number of considerations when deciding whether to accept an offer from an employer. Don’t solely consider salary: take into account other factors, such as working hours benefits, work culture, the job itself and room for career development. If the salary is lower than what you expected and is not compensated by supplementary benefits or career development, you should tell them. If the company has still not offered you a package which you think you are worth, you’ll probably need to accept that the job wasn’t right for you and continue with your search.
Don’t sell yourself short!