The salary is often not specified in job adverts and what is available ‘to the right candidate’ is often described as ‘negotiable’ or flexible, but it is only at the point that the negotiations begin that the reality behind this will be tested.
Many people will accept the first offer as they feel too awkward to try to negotiate or do not feel that they have the right skills to negotiate effectively. Here are our top tips for negotiating your salary and overall compensation package:
It is vital to do your research on what the market rate should be. If you fail to back up any demands with evidence and with a realistic view of what is available in that area for that sort of role they are unlikely to agree to change their offer. Although many jobs are advertised without specifying the salary a review of job boards that hold jobs in your industry can help to give a general idea. LinkedIn, GlassDoor and PayScale allow you to check salary based on job title, industry and geographic area. It is also worth using your network to find out what you can expect.
2. Choose your time
The issue of salary expectation will inevitably come up during the interview process and it is always best to be as vague as possible. Indicating that you are open and need to understand the full scope of the role, that it is the overall package that you need to understand or other similar phrases are useful to put off the question. If pressed, you should indicate a realistic range rather than a specific number based on your research.
Once you have received an offer you should ask for time to consider their offer and check out all the elements of the package to evaluate it against your expectation and the results of your research. You then need to decide which elements fall short of your expectation and which are likely to be negotiable. Even if you are happy with the offer you should take a little time to evaluate and avoid your new employer thinking that they are overpaying you.
3. Develop a clear strategy
Before beginning your negotiations you need to have a clear view of what is important to you, what you are willing to concede on and what your walk-away position is. Are you happy with the offer, but want to see if you can get a little more or does the offer fall short of expectations? Do you have or are you likely to be able to find better paid opportunities?
You need to think about the company’s position and how you will be contributing to their success and then use this to remind them of your potential value. This can be your particular skill-set, industry experience, the strength of your network or most likely a combination of all of these.
Make sure you understand the full value of all the elements of the offer and have assigned a value to the overall package and not just the basic salary. Often the benefits can add significant value. The retirement package may be significant, especially if you are getting closer to retirement age. Insurance for healthcare, life and disability may be better than the coverage you are currently paying for privately.
If there are bonus or commissions you need to understand the triggers and be realistic about what is likely to be achievable. If you are joining an early stage business the value of share options may be a significant factor where the company cannot afford to commit to a top of the range salary.
This is the best time to clarify what arrangements are for reimbursement of job-related costs and what the arrangements are for flights etc of there is significant travel involved.
Non-financial issues and their impact on your work/life balance are also important, including vacation time, flexible working hours and the ability to work from home.
4. Approach the negotiation professionally
This is also often the first real demonstration to the company offering you a job of your approach and skills. You should therefore demonstrate that you have done your research, are commercially capable and organised in your approach. The end objective is to get a deal that is acceptable to both parties. You need to ensure that you do not show yourself to be weak, but you should also not be too pushy to the point where they might withdraw the offer.
Open phrases should be used indicating that you are pleased to receive the offer but want to understand if there is any flexibility. Arrogance or condescendence will not help to establish a good relationship once you have accepted the role.
Base your negotiation on your value to the company and not on pleading based upon costs that you are facing in your personal life. The only exception to this is where they are caused by the role. Thus pointing to the school fees may result in some sympathy, but will only have an impact if the job takes you abroad and this means you have to move them from the state system to an international school or a boarding school.
5. Know when accept or reject an offer
Ultimately, you need to decide at what point you have achieved all that is possible and decide whether the revised offer is one that you can accept. Having come in with a clear idea of what you can accept and what would lead you to walk way you need to know when you have reached that position and act accordingly. You need to either accept gracefully or decline without burning your bridges.