The idea of negotiating a higher salary makes many job seekers feel uncomfortable; they don’t want to seem rude or greedy asking for a higher salary that what’s offered. But if you don’t ask for a higher salary, the answer will always be no. Salary negotiations are a standard part of the hiring process (even in a tough job market). Here’s some advice on how to negotiate.
Finding out what a job is paying
In a perfect world, employers would include salary details in their job ads. Then you would know whether or not it was even worth applying for the job. But this is a rare scenario for most industries.
More likely, you’ll be asked for your salary expectations during an interview. Try to avoid discussing this topic until you’ve been made an offer.
Tell the employer you’re sure you could agree on a salary that works for both of you. If they do press you, provide a salary range you’d find acceptable.
Alternatively, the salary will be included with the job offer. If you’ve got to the stage of being offered the job and still haven’t been advised of the salary it’s time to be direct: “The job sounds great. What is the salary?”
Is the salary negotiable?
If the offer doesn’t match your expectations and requirements, you’re not going to miss out on a job if you try negotiating a higher salary.
Many organisations expect you to negotiate, and factor this in to their offer. If a salary is not negotiable, this may be due to finances or organisational policy.
Research what other people are being paid
If you want to find out what a job potentially pays and improve your ability to negotiate a fair salary, you can research what salaries are paid by other companies.
Good resources to reference are online salary guides, often published by recruitment agencies.
Also ask contacts in your field (or preferred field if this is a career change) what they’d expect a similar position to pay.
Decide your value
Determine how low you’re willing to go on salary. The bottom figure in your range should be the minimum you are willing to accept. The top figure should be at least 10% more than what you’d hope for.
Remember, the job may offer other benefits, so factor those in. Or it may be worth accepting a lower salary if the position leads to other opportunities.
Advice on what to say
Once you’re at the crucial stage, here’s five tips for what to say when negotiating a higher salary.
- State your enthusiasm for the position when revealing your initial thoughts about a salary offer. E.g. “I’m really excited about the role, I’m just a little disappointed with the offer. Can we discuss it further?”
- Ask for what you want while offering evidence to back up your request. This is where your earlier research comes into play.
- Frame the negotiation in questions. E.g. “I’m wondering if you could come up to $70,000 a year?”
- Make the negotiation a pleasant discussion, as opposed to a debate. Inform them that your goal is to find an offer that works for both of you.
- If they won’t budge on paying more, suggest a salary review after three months (or the length of the probation period if applicable). Make sure you get this in writing.
What to do if you’re not successful?
If you can’t come to an agreement about salary, stop negotiating and either accept or say no. If you turn down the position, be polite and diplomatic. Don’t risk limiting future opportunities with the organisation: tell them you’re sorry it didn’t work out this time.
If you’re still not sure how to negotiate, why not invest in one of our career coaching programs for expert advice on closing the deal.