Every journey in applying for a new job is the ultimate goal in receiving that job offer. But that’s not the finish line, for now the game starts and its imperative that your prepared for the salary discussions : don’t under value your worth or the value you may bring, don’t under sell yourself, be clear on your financial value.
Never forget : The most important thing you will ever sell is yourself. Be clear on your objectives, be confident on your skills and your worth and achieve your goal. Be calm and assertive and clear.
Some organizations do operate strict budgetary constraints and hierarchies that dictate set salary bands, however the reverse is also true as there are loads of organistaions that have a far more malleable budgets and free hand at setting remuneration packages, these are where you’ll need to exercise your negotiating skills.
When you are offered a job, you have a unique opportunity to position yourself as a valuable asset and to set your level of remuneration accordingly. Be clear, some compromise may be necessary, but understand your value and worth.
You don’t want to oversell yourself and price yourself out of the market, and just as importantly you need to avoid selling yourself short as it’s extremely difficult to change your position once you’re in a pay structure. Some people have spent the first few years in a new job trying to make up the gap between their salary and colleagues' in the same role.
To achieve this, you need to establish an appropriate asking price. Think about this early in interviewing process just in case it should come up during your interview. Be prepared and don’t get caught out.
So, that tricky question : What's your price?
There are no rules, just some simple guidelines as every situation is different and each employer will have their own way of working. Having said that, there are some practical steps you can take to position yourself sensibly and control the process and ultimately drive your salary up.
So here are four practical tips that really can make a difference.
(1) Research, Research, Research.
Research early on is critical. Research the employer, research the market, research their competitors, all before entering the negotiation. Make sure you have done your homework on the company itself and just as importantly their competitors, as well as the range of salary and benefits on offer.
When you are going for a job, you are effectively a salesperson promoting a product and it is up to you to demonstrate that the ‘product’ is valuable, high quality and superior to anything a competitor could offer. As I say, the most important product you are selling is yourself.
Potential employers or ‘buyers’ are looking for the best value for their money, so will be driving the deal in the opposite direction. However, if you have positioned yourself well and made a good impression at interview, they won’t want to risk losing you and will be prepared to settle at the top of the market rather than at the bottom. If you know what the employer can afford and typical salaries for the sector, you will automatically gain an advantage.
Six tips for researching your salary
If you pitch yourself too high then that you can out price yourself and just as importantly don’t under pitch yourself as this can be just as negative. It is important to get your level right. Get a feel for the market rate by drawing information from the above sources.
(2) Discuss salary as late as possible
It’s best to leave salary discussions until the point at which you are offered the job.
During the interview process you are demonstrating your worth, your “x” factor that you bring to the party and your value. This will make your negotiating and salary discussions a lot easier.
It’s old-fashioned Feature and Benefit selling. When discussing salary you can remind the interviewer of examples of your previous work, results that clearly demonstrate the value you bring.
However, it is not always the case that this will be left to the final stages of the process. Many recruiters ask for salary expectations and details of current salary early in the process. Some even screen people out on this basis. If this is the case, you may need to spend some time researching the question of salary at the application stage or before the first meeting. This will require you to think about your aspirations and to be absolutely sure of the territory you would like to tread, the experience you would like to gain and the context in which you would like to work.
If you are forced to answer a question about your salary hopes at the beginning of the recruitment process, have a figure ready that is at the higher end of the scale. You can always supplement this with a request for a particular benefits package.
If the salary offered is less than you had hoped for, you can discuss the benefits package and make provision for an early salary review. If you have a job already, don’t assume you’ll be offered more than your former salary – especially if you’re competing with someone who is equally qualified but willing to work for less.
(3) Consider the whole package
Make sure you check out the salary package, not just the number of zeroes on your payslip. The extra things an employer offers may be worth more than their weight in gold, but they might just be thrown in to make the company seem more appealing.
Some employers have fixed-scale salaries in which case there is little room for negotiation. However, you may find that the total package of pay and benefits raises the worth of the salary to an acceptable level. For instance, you may be offered private health cover, a non-contributory pension, a fully financed car and/or significant bonus potential.
You may be able to negotiate a cash equivalent in place of a benefit, particularly in a smaller organisation that is more flexible.
When bonuses are mentioned, you may want to discuss the basis on which the bonus is paid, so that you are absolutely clear about the terms and conditions attached to it. Some bonus schemes spread the payments over several years as an incentive to stay with the business. Such complexities can be very off-putting.
Remember the tax implications. All the benefits included in a package are taxed as benefits in kind. For example, on company cars and health insurance. When negotiating, be persuasive and consistent in your arguments but be prepared to compromise.
(4) Explore the boundaries
Adverts sometimes carry salary ranges to give applicants an idea of the boundaries of the negotiation. You can be sure, however, that the negotiation will start at base level.
If you find that the employer is not responding to your sales pitch, you could negotiate an early pay review instead: for instance, if you demonstrate your worth against certain criteria in the first six months of your employment, they will agree to a particular salary increase. Ensure that the criteria are clearly set, though, and that they are included in your contract of employment.
Some adverts state that the salary is ‘negotiable’, the onus is then on you to move in with an offer. Again, try and leave it to the end of the recruitment process and be sure that you have studied the equivalent packages for the type of role and industry sector you are applying for.
If you are successful in your negotiations, ask for the agreed terms and conditions confirmed in writing ASAP.
When negotiating for a package, try to do it calmly and assertively.
Appearing too eager can defeat your negotiation. Being too laid back or diffident can portray a lack of professionalism or overconfidence. Either approach can damage your case.
Three of the most common mistakes in salary negotiations