You’ve finally been offered a new job after weeks of emails, applications and multiple interviews. You’re delighted and the temptation to snap up their offer is high, but you wonder if it’s possible to negotiate a better salary. However, it’s difficult to know how to approach the discussion — and you don’t want to risk jeopardising your new position.
Asking for a more competitive wage as a new starter isn’t an easy thing to do, but you could be leaving money on the table if you don’t negotiate. According to a recent survey by Robert Half, 36% of managers said they are more likely to negotiate starting salary with new hires than they were a year ago and 50% said they are just as likely to. So what is the best way to go about it?
“In order to successfully negotiate a higher salary, an employer would need to believe that the candidate is absolutely the person that they need within their organisation,” says Judy Bullimore, an employment specialist and dream job mentor.
“They would need to essentially ‘buy into’ the blend of skills, attributes and experience they can offer, so much so, that they deem the person ‘worth’ the investment. It is for this reason that I encourage anyone interviewing to have three things in place when they are interviewing.”
Firstly, it’s important for candidates to know their "core offer" — the unique stamp that only they can place on the role. “It is an amalgamation of their personality, skills, experience and passion for the role,” Bullimore says. “By having a strong core offer, the employer can better understand what they gain by choosing one candidate over another.”
It’s also key for people to be aware of their "expert" skills and experience that make them the ideal person for the role.
Watch: How to negotiate a pay rise
“The interview process will pool together candidates with similar skills and experience. The key to proving that a candidate has the competitive edge, is to speak with absolute confidence and conviction about their specialist and expert areas,” explains Bullimore. “This helps turn mediocre experiences, into compelling memorable experiences, and helps the employer trust in the candidate’s abilities.”
Finally, the employer may be more willing to negotiate a higher salary if they have connected with the candidate personally. Being authentic can help you come across as confident in your abilities, which will play in your favour when asking for more money.
When should you start salary negotiations?
It’s also crucial to have the conversation at the right time. Usually, salary negotiations take place in the final stages of the interview process.
“This is to ensure the employer has been given enough opportunity to understand the potential and impact that the candidate can make if given the opportunity,” says Bullimore. “Then I would broach it from a place of confidence, clarity of their competitive edge, and clarity on how the criteria they are negotiating will benefit the employer.”
Jane Ferré, an executive career coach and mentor, recommends leaving salary negotiations until you have an offer on the table.
“I would always recommend that candidates have a ballpark figure for a role before they enter into any selection process, this will save both parties a lot of time if the salary that an organisation has budgeted is way off the candidate's expectations,” she says.
However, the salary decision process will often begin during the interview process. When talking to a potential employer, you’re selling your skills, experience and ultimately, your value.
“During this period, you will also have gleaned why the organisation is looking to recruit. Has someone left? Is this a new role that they don't have the skills for within the organisation? Are they growing? Are they diversifying? Entering new markets?” she says. “If the answer is yes to any of the above, remind the hiring manager of this during the negotiation and the value that your skills will bring moving forward.”
What should you do if there is no room for negotiation?
However, it’s important to understand the constraints of the business. A small, independent company may not have the resources to increase your salary by a significant amount, but there may be other options. If a higher wage isn’t an option, you could ask for additional days of annual leave, flexible working hours or the opportunity to do a training course.
“One suggestion that I offered a client was a two-stage uplift,” says Ferré. “This means asking for a small uplift upfront and then getting agreement for another amount that can be delivered, say six months after the start date, on delivery of a number of objectives. This way, you prove your worth and the company is reassured that you are the person for them.”
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