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.
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?”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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?