Many people wonder how to negotiate a salary for a new job offer. I’ve sat in on salary negotiations a few times and it’s often such an interesting exercise, whether you’re in it personally or watching from the sidelines. Personally, I love negotiating. And I’ve almost always negotiated salaries and benefits, even as a “straight outta Uni” employee.

In my first ever job interview, the salary I asked for was about four times more than what the firm was willing to offer. And before you ask, no I didn’t get that. But at least I asked.

Negotiating salaries and benefits can be tricky. But asking and getting answers to these questions will help.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Negotiating Salary for a New Job

Should you even negotiate the offer at all?

Some people preach that all offers must be negotiated. But that’s not always the case. Although I’ve seen cases where some supposedly fixed salaries for a certain category of people have been adjusted for one person, it’s not common.

So, you need to ask yourself if you should be negotiating the salary at all. Is it commensurate or even more than what you expected, or hoped to earn? If it is, then that’s fine. One question to ask in determining if you should negotiate at all is “am I willing to walk away from this role if the salary or benefits are not adjusted in any way?”

Are you in a strong enough position to negotiate?

Some people say that as a new employee being offered a job, you should always negotiate because the company wants you at that time. But while that’s often true, you have to be convinced that you’re in a strong position. This could either be because you’re an uber prime candidate, you also have several offers or are not exactly in dire need of a new job. 

But if none of the above are your current situation, think again. Remember that your negotiations could put the recruiters off and they could very easily decide to extend their recruitment process or call on some other candidates they might have been considering. So, if you’re unemployed or seriously job hunting, negotiating strongly might not be advisable.

There have been times when I’ve not negotiated an offer at all. Mostly because at that point as a new entrant, I was fine with it and didn’t want to have that discussion. In such cases, I decided I could have the conversation six months down the line.

What is the market rate for this role and your expertise?

If you haven’t done any research, you’re unlikely to be in a great position to negotiate. You need receipts. You need to know, for instance, what are other companies paying for the role and your expertise?

Even better if you’ve recently been contacted by recruiters or headhunters and been offered a package better than what the company is offering. You can compare your present benefits with the new offer.

Questions to Ask the Organisation/Recruiter

Can I negotiate this offer?

This might seem like a rhetorical question and you may expect most organisations to say no. However, this isn’t always the case and decent firms are often straightforward.

They might say they don’t have the power to negotiate it (in which case jump to the next question on this list), or they might say they have a little bit of bandwidth based on other factors. Others might say it’s negotiable based on the market rate (in which case it would be helpful if you’ve done some research).

Is there someone else you can speak to up the ladder?

Sometimes first stage negotiations start with the HR or the more junior members of the recruiting team. And if they refuse to budge on negotiations, it may simply be because their hands are tied — and as people say colloquially, such decisions are above their pay grade.

A valid question to ask and consider, then, would be if there is anyone else higher up who could make that decision. And that has been my experience. When the HR team wouldn’t budge, I wrote a clear email to the senior manager explaining my reasons for stalling on the job offer, and requiring a conversation on pay. We had a conversation and the pay raise was effected.

So always consider if there’s someone else you could have a chat with. It could be a brief email, or a coffee to get a sense of whether there’s any room for negotiations.

What other perks come with the role?

Yes, I agree, cash is king. But too many people are often focused on the amount that hits their account at the end of the month. The right approach, however, is to think of your benefits as an entire package — the salary is just one part. For so many reasons the base pay might be fixed. However, companies might be flexible on other elements and perks, and there is so much you can request. So consider what other perks come with the role, and are a good fit for you: from flexible working, refundable commute costs, payment for courses or certifications, extra vacation days – there’s a lot you could and should consider.

What’s the salary band/future expectations for this role?

What’s the next band for growth and how soon am I likely to get there?
Many firms operate a band system. So when you negotiate salary it’s helpful to ask what this is and how it operates.

For example, an Analyst role might have a salary band of £30-40k. This would mean that based on experience and other factors, a new hire could be placed anywhere on that band. So, for one who is placed on 30, when can you expect to go up the band or to the next band? What are the indicators for progress? How often are salaries renewed?

Essentially, make sure you have a clear idea of what the possibilities are. 

It’s important that you feel somewhat satisfied with your salary/compensation package, so hopefully these help. If you’re already into your job and need to ask for a pay raise, I’ll do a separate post on how to go about that. Treat your salary negotiations seriously. When you negotiate salary, be firm in your expectations, but not pompous.

Have you ever had to negotiate your salary for a new job? How did that go and any extra tips to add?

read too: How to send a really good email and 5 unnecessary practices job recruiters need to stop


8 COMMENTS

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8 Comments

  1. Dara

    July 15, 2019 at 17:04

    I have had to negotiate just once (at a Nigerian firm). Maybe not exactly a negotiation; HR asked how much I was expecting to get paid and after giving my offer said “Okay. But we have a fixed amount we pay our entry level staff.” Lol
    If you are unemployed or seriously job hunting, would you say to not negotiate at the time of the offer and wait until a few months time to do this? How likely is it that they would be willing to increase one’s pay just few months in?

    Reply
    • Mitchell

      July 17, 2019 at 08:52

      You can attempt to negotiate, if they do not budge, then decide if you really want the job. If yes, take it, keep a record of your work in the months after. During appraisal, usually 6 months into the job depending on the organisation, make a case for a raise, putting forward details of the work you have done and why you deserve a raise. Most organisations raise your salary after a successful appraisal anyway.
      Important fact: make sure you keep a record of your work!

      Reply
      • Kachi Tila-Adesina

        July 21, 2019 at 21:44

        Solid advice Mitchell. Keeping a record is absolutely key!

        Reply
  2. Lola

    July 15, 2019 at 17:32

    I’m going for a recruitment exercise and the bottom of my mail says salary is negotiable. I’m an entry level applicant, really need to start building my UK working experience. Would just go a by higher than their band price and if they don’t budge taking it like that. Like the post says am I in the best position to negotiate.

    Reply
  3. Mitchell

    July 17, 2019 at 08:58

    At my current job in Nigeria, when I was offered the position, I was asked how much I wanted to earn, I mentioned a figure, they went a little lower and said the salary will be increased after the probation period.
    My salary has been increased twice in 21 months with two promotions, usually just as I am gearing up to ask for a raise lol.

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      July 21, 2019 at 21:45

      Whoop whooop!! Way to go!

      Reply
  4. LoriKemi

    July 20, 2019 at 09:42

    Helpful tips and post – thank you! It’s hard to feel confident about one’s abilities and to negotiate successfully when you feel like “anything is better than nothing…” but it must be done! PS: It’s really interesting to read about differences in salary bands in different countries… I live/work in Washington, DC in the US and the equivalent of a GBP 30-40k salary offer is quite low; it would require very strict budgeting. Considering all I’ve heard about the cost of living in theUK, it’s quite impressive that people manage to live fairly comfortably with that salary! || http://www.lorikemi.com

    Reply
    • Kachi Tila-Adesina

      July 21, 2019 at 21:48

      I know that “anything is better than nothing” feeling but it’s worth a try. Re salary, I used the figures as a random example so probably don’t attach much weight to it. However, I’ve heard from my friends that UK salaries are way less than US salaries!

      Reply

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