What kind of salary can I ask for? Anyone who enters negotiations for a new job or for extending a contract, asks themselves this question. Negotiating salary is difficult, but necessary. When you’re discussing an employment contract, the salary negotiations are often a deciding factor.
In this article, we’ll give you helpful tips for your negotiations. These tips will assist you in negotiating salary and other terms of employment.
Negotiating your salary? This is how you do it!
With the right negotiation skills, you’ll be able to get the best results out of your negotiations. Negotiations like these boil down to you deciding what you’re worth while the employer decides what the position is worth to them. Your future salary will be somewhere in the middle. Therefore, it is important to be realistic about the salary you should receive. Let’s start with an overview of the most common reasons for negotiating salary.
Reasons for negotiating your salary
There are many different reasons to negotiate your salary. The most important ones are the following:
- You just graduated and want to avoid getting underpaid
- Your current contract is expiring and you feel like your performance over the last year warrants a raise
- You’re interviewing with a new employer because you want to make more than you do at your current job
- You found out that the average salary for your position is a lot higher than yours, and you want to discuss this with your employer
- You’ve heard from people around you – maybe even your team members – what they make, and your salary is a lot lower than theirs
- Your employer doesn’t pay overtime, but you do work extra hours every week. For this reason, you want your basic salary to be higher
Tips for salary negotiations for your new job
Whether you’ve been invited for an interview with a new employer, are about to start negotiating terms of employment, or have already received an offer, we have some tips for entering these negotiations.
1. Inform yourself about the average salary in your field
During negotiations, the two most common mistakes are underestimating the value you’ll add to the company, and overestimating it. To prevent these mistakes, the first step is always to look up the average salary for the position. A simple Google search can give you a good idea. Don’t forget to consult multiple sources
2. Determine what you can ask based on your experience and education level
The average salary isn’t the only indicator for what your salary could be. Your education level and experience are also important. Determine whether you’re a junior (0-2 years experience on average), mid-level (2-5 years experience), or senior (5+ years experience) in your field, and whether you have the required educational attainment.
3. Delay salary negotiations for as long as possible
This may seem like strange advice, but it’s important to try and delay negotiations about salary until the later stages of the interviewing process. Ideally, you are the only candidate left. This helps you, because at this point you know that the employer wants to hire you. If the employer wants to start negotiating salary early, you could say that you would like to go over some other points before discussing pay.
4. Let your employer make the first offer
Try to prevent having to give an indication of the salary you want before receiving an offer. If you’re asked how much you’d like to make, it’s acceptable to answer with a question, for example: “When you take a look at my CV, how much do you think I’m worth?”
5. Don’t be afraid to negotiate
A lot of professionals immediately agree to the first offer made by an employer. This is unwise. Usually you’ll be able to get more, because the employer expects negotiations and consciously makes an offer lower than the amount they’d be willing to pay. Besides, by negotiating you demonstrate that you are assertive and know your worth.
Tips for negotiations for your current job
Are you negotiating the salary for your current job? The above tips apply to these negotiations too, but you should enter these discussions with a slightly different mindset. You can now argue for a higher salary on a much more factual basis. You’re able to give concrete examples of projects you’ve done and how you helped the company with your unique skills and qualities. Make sure to be polite during these negotiations.
You received a counter offer. Now what?
In general, the employer will make the first offer. You respond by negotiating. The next step is that you will receive a counter offer. It’s possible that you get lucky and your suggestion gets accepted, but more often than not you will receive a counter offer. Usually, this counter offer will be somewhere between their offer and yours.
If you made your suggestion too high on purpose, there’s a decent chance this counter offer will be exactly what you aimed for. In this case, you should accept the counter offer. You got what you wanted and you’ll leave the negotiations feeling content.
However, if the offer you made was actually the salary that you wanted, you should continue negotiations for a while. You can indicate that you think the counter offer is too low to accept. This won’t leave much room for negotiating, but you’re doing this based on the conviction that you really are worth more. Oftentimes, the employer will be accommodating.
You can’t come to an agreement.
There’s a possibility that the salary offered by the employer doesn’t match the salary you wanted. Sometimes this leads to a deadlock. Usually, that means an end to the negotiations. This could be good; if you can’t come to an agreement with someone, you probably shouldn’t do business with them.
However, it could occur that you think the salary is too low, but you are very excited about the job and the company. In that case there is one last thing you can discuss: other terms of employment.
- The possibility of working from home one or more days
- A company car that you can drive for personal use too
- A written agreement which states that you will start receiving the salary you asked for after 6 months, provided your performance is good (be sure to make explicit what ‘good performance’ actually means)
Negotiating your salary when you get an indefinite contract
When negotiating for an indefinite contract, make sure to discuss with your employer at which times throughout the year you will sit down together to discuss your salary. It’s perfectly fine to indicate that you expect yearly raises if your performance is up to scratch.
Negotiating your salary for a promotion
When you get promoted, this will almost always mean a higher salary. However, some employers see the promotion itself as a gift to you, and don’t believe you should receive a higher salary until after you’ve proven yourself in your new role. Let’s be clear: you don’t have to accept this. Increased responsibility should come with higher compensation. In this situation you have every right to demand better pay.
Negotiating your salary when you just graduated
When you’re just starting out in the job market, it’s ill-advised to drive a hard bargain. You don’t have any experience and you still have much to learn. For this situation, it’s smart to look up the average entry level salary for the position and to take that as an indication.
As a graduate, it’s important for you to understand that your employer is making an investment by hiring you. You will require training, and because your employer won’t be able to check many references from your CV, they are taking a risk. Many employers do like hiring entry level employees, not only because they’re cheaper but also because they’re usually adaptable.
Negotiating face to face or by e-mail
Should you negotiate face to face or via e-mail? Both happen. It may seem impersonal to do it by e-mail, but it does give both parties the time to think calmly about the negotiation. Whether the negotiations happen face to face or by e-mail largely depends on the employer. Should they send you an e-mail with a salary indication, you can respond with a counter offer via e-mail if you want to.
See the following example:
Dear [name of employer],
Thank you for sending me the salary indication. I’ve read your offer thoroughly and compared the suggested monthly salary with the average salary in my field. I’ve also examined the offer in light of my experience and educational attainment. I’d like to make a concession in which we try to find a compromise between your offer and my desired salary. My suggestion is that we increase your offer by two hundred pounds. This will put it slightly
above the average for this position. My reasoning for suggesting this is that I received a masters degree with distinction, which means that I bring more knowledge and insight to the table than most of my colleagues.
I’m looking forward to hearing what you think of my counter offer.
Now you know everything about the do’s and don’ts of negotiating your salary, and you can enter the negotiations well prepared. Whether you’re negotiating for your current position, an entry level position, or a job with a new employer: you know exactly what to do and how to get the most out of your negotiations.
Frequently asked questions about salary negotiations
Below, you’ll find some of the most frequently asked questions about salary negotiations.
What’s the best way to negotiate my salary?
To be successful in negotiating your salary, it’s important to look up the average salary for the position, and decide what you can ask based on work experience and education level. Try to nudge negotiations such that the employer makes the first offer. For more information, check out our tips for negotiating your salary.
Can I negotiate if I just graduated?
Being a tough negotiator when you’re just starting out isn’t wise. But you are in a good position as a graduate. Make sure your CV mentions your extracurricular activities and what your talents are. Don’t forget to look up the average graduate salary for the job you’re applying for. If you’re unsatisfied with the salary you’ve been offered, try negotiating other terms of employment.
What are my options when I get a counter offer?
A counter offer made by an employer will usually be somewhere between their initial offer and your offer. In many cases, this is the salary you want, in which case you should accept it. If you’re not happy with the counter offer, let the employer know that you’re not prepared to lower your offer. If you notice negotiations grinding to a halt because of this, consider negotiating the other terms of employment, like working from home or making your own schedule.