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The Art of Negotiating a Higher Salary Offer

The job market is improving and demand for skilled employees is picking up. Employers are working hard to attract the right candidates, which puts new and existing employees in a good bargaining position. High staff turnover hurts a business hard – so employers could be more open than you’d think to negotiate a higher salary to hire you or keep you around. So whether you’ve scored a new job or you’re angling for a higher wage in your current job, it really is worth the potential awkwardness to ask for more. Of course, there are much better and worse ways of going about this. Follow these tips to reduce that awkwardness and give yourself the best possible chance.

Do Your Homework

If you walk into a salary negotiation without a number, you’re at the mercy of an experienced hiring manager. Before you step into this conversation, you should know what you’re worth in terms of salary and benefits. Here at Adzuna we’ve built a tool to help employees negotiate pay. Our new app can tell you how much you are worth just by looking at your resume. Value my CV looks at over 100 data points in your resume, from education to employers to job skills, and uses that data to calculate your market rate.

If you haven’t done your homework, you give the people in charge total control over negotiations from the outset, which is not a good move!

If it’s a new job remain vague about salary history at the start

Being asked about your salary history and expectations can be awkward. You may be embarrassed to tell the hiring manager what you’ve made previously if you think it will sound low. If you’re expecting a wage a lot higher than what you currently earn, you might be concerned about answering with too high a number. Unfortunately this is a bit of a lose-lose situation, which makes it easier to slip up and look less than great in the hiring manager’s eyes. When this question is asked, the salary package offered is usually determined from what you’re currently making instead of from industry and market standards; if you’re making a pretty low salary now, that will probably repeat itself. That’s why you want to remain vague – and this is perfectly acceptable! Stick with something like this:

“I’ll be happy to discuss salary details further once I’ve learned a bit more about the position.” Or, “I’d rather not discuss previous package details; I’m looking forward to the future and a package that’s suitable for my role and performance within this team.” Not talking about previous packages really isn’t going to keep a hiring manager from choosing the person they want.

What are you willing to accept?

Another thing to consider before the negotiations start is what level of pay you would ideally like, and what you’d be willing to accept. It is always a good idea to ask for slightly more than you are looking for when negotiating on salary, as your employer will usually make a lower offer. If you are already a great performer or you’re going into a job where it’s likely you’ll be a top performer, they will be keen to retain you, but they’ll want to do so at as little extra cost to the business as possible. And remember that employers have access to salary guides as well. Asking for a really unreasonable amount probably won’t look good. Work out a figure that is higher than what you’d accept, and go in with a firm idea of that acceptable figure.

Justify your request

This is not the time to bring up your rising daycare costs and the burden of your mortgage. Unfortunately, the sympathy card just doesn’t cut it when negotiating pay. Everyone is dealing with financial pressures and all costs to the company must be justified. So this is where you want to bring up the specific value that you bring to the organisation. Justify your request by what you bring to the table. Try something like this: “While I appreciate your offer/my current salary, I believe my experience/performance managing a sales team of 5 employees brings the kind of unique value to your company that would be better reflected in a salary along the lines of __________.” Try and cite real figures and solid achievements. The person you’re talking to may have to justify this to someone higher up the chain, so give them something good to work with! Ultimately they care about what you’re adding to the company – so stick with that.

Take time to consider the package as a whole

Instead of immediately saying yes, let the hiring manager or your boss know that you appreciate the offer and would like a day or two to think things over. This is completely normal and expected. Don’t make the mistake of saying yes too fast! To do that gives the impression that they offered you too much and they could have gotten away with less – this is not what you want! Now use this time to think about the package as a whole – with all of the included benefits. A job with less salary but more benefits may actually be worth more to you. Have a good think about what would improve your situation in general. How many leave days do you get? Can you work all or part of the time at home? How flexible are the work hours? Job offer negotiations aren’t just about salary. In fact, if the organisation has little financial room to work with, giving you tailored perks might work best for everyone. As you examine what’s on offer, really think about what you value and want in life. Once you’ve got an idea of that, you’ll know exactly what to ask for – or what to come back within your counteroffer.

While there is regularly negotiation room in salary packages, few people take the opportunity to discuss this. Don’t make this costly mistake! If you can successfully negotiate your starting salary higher, not only will you make more money immediately and each year after that, but your potential future raises will all be higher too. And if you move jobs you take that extra value and expectation with you. At the end of the day you really can build up a huge sum of money by having this one negotiation. So, don’t let a little potential awkwardness stop you – get in there!

Start by valuing your CV for free and discover your worth!