Negotiating Salary

Negotiating Salary In A New Role:

The last time I had to negotiate a remuneration package for a new role I applied everything that I have learned via the research that I had done to compile this website. If you have got to the stage in which they are ready to offer you a package you are likely to be the preferred candidate for the role. Employers may still have a "short list" of possible applicants should your package wants be vastly different from what the firm is offering so don't worry about that. If the role is for a large company then the pay scale will most likely be done in pay bands. An example of this would be an entry level job which would be "Band A" which would have a salary range of say $25-30k (example). In this instance there is a window for the employer to offer a salary based on your experience and other factors. One thing to remember is the salary bands for companies may not be updated as fast as the changing pace of the market value of the job in the wider market. This brings me to the most important part of negotiating a starting salary; which is:

1) know when to negotiate

You should always start the negotiation after you have been given an offer by the employer in writing. The reason for this is the offer may include performance based bonuses or other items that you were not aware of. If you negotiate before the written offer then you may get a slightly better base salary but lose out on the bonuses.

2) know your worth;

Before you go into a job interview for a role you should know the average salary for the role that you are applying for. This is important as it is the role that you are applying for, not what you have received previously because you are essentially applying to fill a role and complete that particular roles tasks. The key point here is your ability to negotiate close to or above the salary that they are offering (assuming they have placed the salary close to market rate). If your research shows that the average salary for a role is $50k and they advertising the role with a "blank" salary then you can use this in your negotiation later.

3) give a salary range;

The salary that you state should always be a range instead of an absolute number. This allows the opportunity for overlap between what you are looking for and what the employer is willing to pay. If there is no overlap initially then it is up to you to provide the evidence that you researched to justify your case. Most employers will adjust the salary range if you have a compelling argument as their salary band may be outdated or unrealistic. If the job is for $50k you would say "In this city the average salary for a __job title____ with ____ years experience is between $45-$55k". If the salary comes without a listed salary your argument is even more valid given you are demonstrating that you are serious about this position and have thoroughly investigated the role. In the last negotiation that I did the company was 15% lower than what I considered the minimum pay for the role. To overcome this deficit I gave the interviewer examples of exact job comparisons in the same area for the same job position. The employer went back to the HR department who accepted that they were being very conservative with their offer and increased it by the full amount.

Three things to look at here are:

  1. The average pay for other companies in the same industry as the company that you are interviewing with
  2. The average pay for people with similar levels of experience as you in the industry
  3. Things that you can bring to the company as "added value". An example would be free advertising for their product on a series of networks you run or a unique work skill.

Had I not done the research on the salary figures and the research into negotiating pay I would have been offered a figure that I would have either accepted or declined as there would have been little argument for adjusting the figure.

4) statement of facts:

For the most part employers want the best person for the role. If you are the preferred candidate then you have demonstrated that you have ticked the most boxes and shown competence in both your set of skills and experience but also your personality during the interview process. If you can justify all of the things that you state then you are more likely to be able to agree on a figure with your prospective employer.

5) listen to offers that may involve performance based incentives/pay:

In some roles the initial salary offered may be quite low which many people would dismiss immediately. However, if the company wants you but they do not have the funds to pay at this point in time, they may tell you that they cannot afford any more currently. In a situation like this you should ask about performance based incentives. If you are confident about your ability to meet agreeable milestones this is a way of bringing the salary up, whilst also giving more safety to the employer about your appointment.

6) salary does not always involve money:

You may be offered other things such as company cars, phones, stocks etc. There may also be none cash items that you are offered. The best way to find out what they are likely to offer is to research the companies hiring processes which will shed light on what they are likely to offer. Google is your best friend here.

All of the negotiation should be done in the hiring phase as it will be written into the contract and then more likely to be honored by both sides.  This is the ideal time to get any special conditions written into your contract so there employer has to honor them.

7) remember the value of the role may be different to your value of yourself:

Sometimes one has to take a job that is "below" their skill level and experience. The key thing here is to remember that whilst you are highly skilled you are being hired to fulfill a role which requires less skill and therefore justifies a lower salary. Reading the job description of any job you apply for is a must to gauge the level of expertise required to complete the job.

8) when the offer is close to what you want, but not there yet:

If you are wanting a salary of $50k but the employer has came back with say $47k and you feel it is the last round of negotiation a good phrase to use that I have used previously is:

"I feel that we are close to making a deal. In my research I found that the lower end of the scale for a salary in this role is $50k however I am willing to make a compromise and if we could meet in the middle at say $48,500 then I would be happy with that"

That example shows that you are placing an emphasis on the job rather than the money and that you are reasonable in your approach.  The employer will notice the buzz word "compromise" which shows adaptability which will more than likely mean they will accept your counter offer.

Learning about salary negotiation can mean the difference between getting a salary that you don't believe reflects your skill-set and getting the salary that you are happy with. It is possible to negotiate beyond what you considered your maximum for your salary range if you have all of the skills required and can give added value to the role. With thousands of dollars at stake it makes sense to prepare for this thoroughly.