Article – Handling Salary Negotiations

Successful Negotiation

Salary negotiations can be frightening, but read our quick and easy guide that will help you get what you deserve. A negotiation is only really, truly, successful when both parties feel that they have struck an equal bargain. So if that’s all that negotiation is, why do so many of us fear it?

Definition: “Negotiate” – Confer (with another) with views to compromise or agreement. (Source: The Concise Oxford Dictionary)

Why does the word negotiation make us think of Sir Alan Sugar or Donald Trump? Lots of what has been written about negotiation is directed at those in high-pressure careers. But negotiation skills are just as vital for anyone looking to get the best from their career.

Some of us would happily ignore negotiation and pretend that it doesn’t exist, avoiding it when possible. This is not going to make it any easier for you. Feeling apprehensive about negotiation is normal, but you can get through it. Even experienced negotiators can find it difficult sometimes. However, it can also be challenging, fun and even exhilarating.

Don’t worry if you haven’t been successful in negotiation previously, this time will be different. Think of your career as a work in progress, it will be a learning experience. Just initiating the negotiation process is a significant step and can bring its own rewards. Recruiters and employers are impressed with confident applicants who know their worth.

This 5 step process is primarily for negotiating salary, but the universal principles can be used in other situations.

Step 1 

The vital first step is research. If you are applying for a position in the same company, ask to speak to people in that department. Look for job advertisements that are similar to the one you are applying for. Send off for application forms for other jobs, examine the job descriptions carefully. Find out as much as you can about your specific job market and exactly how it works. Read as much as you can on the subject, subscribe to trade journals, look at comparisons of salary both locally and also in other areas.

Work out the very least salary that you could or would accept

This is your base salary.

Step 2

Find out what the ‘product’ is worth; in this case the product is you! What could you be paid for a similar role, in another company? By conducting research you can uncover your current worth, include any benefit packages. This figure will then become your realistic mid-point salary. In life we spend on average of about a month deciding which car to buy. We must also look around from time to time to ensure that we are getting the true value for our talents.

Work out a realistic comfortable salary that you could be happy with

This is your mid-point salary.

Step 3

Find out what you actually want. What salary would make you happiest? This can be revealing, as you need to feel ‘worth it’. Spend at least 10 minutes thinking about your ideal job. If we don’t have dreams then the whole process is not as beneficial. Be realistic but only after you have allowed your imagination to run wild! This can be especially useful for those people who do not use their creative side often.

Work out a fantastic salary that would make you very happy.

This will become your dream salary.

Step 4

This is preparation for the moment when you will actually ask for the things you want. For some people, this is the most nerve-wracking. Rehearsing with friends and family can help to get you in the right frame of mind. If you have trouble thinking or remembering your words then write a script. You do not have to follow it religiously but it can help you to formulate a basic plan of what to say. Practice out loud with a strong voice, prepare for any questions or objections that you may face and carry out further research as necessary.

Now you know what to say and how you are going to say it 

Step 5

After all your research and practice you will be keen to test your skills. Ensure that your timing is right. It is not acceptable to bring up the subject of salary in the first few minutes of an interview. If you are unsure when to discuss it, wait for a cue from the interviewer. If they ask you a question about your current salary, then it would be appropriate to begin negotiations. If they do not mention salary and it is important to you to start negotiations at this stage, you may need to carefully raise the subject yourself.

Never be tempted to reveal your base salary. Try to let the employer put their offer to you before responding. When you do respond you should try to suggest a salary range that you would be happy with if you are successful. You should find that you have set up the negotiation with skill and that the final part is to find a salary on which you can both agree. Keep in mind what your dream salary is, this is what you are aiming to achieve.

If the offer is lower than you expected, do not panic or take it personally, the employer is negotiating for its own interests. They have a responsibility to their company to ensure that they are getting the best deal that they can. This may also be a test, to see if you think that you are worth that amount. Stand firm; do not be swayed by any tactics. Use the research that you have performed.

Explain why you have come to the figure that you are requesting, do not be confrontational but give the overview of what you have discovered. If the next offer is still too low, again don’t panic. Ask if you could have some time to consider the offer. Do not react immediately, you may be emotional and risk giving a bad impression. If pressed, then you will need to decide if you can accept a low offer. Your research should have provided you with a rounded impression of the company. Only you can decide your future.

If you ask for an increase in salary and you are not successful, do not worry. This is an indication that you need to take stock, you have now been provided with some time to consider your position. It can be a fantastic opportunity to discover your next steps in your career path and it should be grasped with both hands!

Negotiation is not restricted to salary; you need to learn to successfully negotiate to safeguard your future.