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How to Negotiate Your Salary

Date: 30 May 2019

A man negotiates his salary with an employerSalary negotiation. Those two words fill most people with dread, but with the average salary up 9.3% from a decade ago and continuing to rise – can you afford not to negotiate?

Women, in particular, are less likely to try. Linda Babcock’s book, Women Don’t Ask, revealed that only about 7% of women attempt to negotiate their first salary, compared to 57% of men. People who negotiate are able to increase their salary by over 7% on average. Always assume the offer is up for negotiation. Here are our top tips on how to bargain for the salary you deserve.

Do not start negotiating your salary until you have a firm offer

You need to know what you are bargaining with. Give your employer positive reinforcement to send a firm offer in writing, suggests Prof. Leigh Thompson at the Kellog School of Management. "Everything looks great, I just need to go over the offer one last time before we make this official." Be gracious and enthusiastic when they give you an offer, but tell them you need to go home and think on it. This will put the ball in your court before you start negotiating. 

Build the business case

Arguing for an increased offer must make commercial sense for the business. Make a strong case, show that you understand the company's current financial situation, and know who has the power to negotiate. “A request for an increase in salary needs to come with justification as to why," advises Associate Director, George Aplin, "increased offers are going to go through several discussions and approvals and unless you present a clear business case, you'll give the employer a reason to decline. Stick to facts and sell the tangible value you’re bringing to the business, including your unique skills and experience that exceed what is usually required for the role.”

Suggest an exact number for your salary

Telling exactly what you need to agree to an offer is a powerful strategy. Research from the Columbia Business School suggests that candidates who use a specific number end up with a final offer much closer to the figure they were hoping for. Your potential employer will assume you have done your research on your market value and want to stay competitive in their offer. Don't suggest a range, you will always get offered the lowest if the manager knows there's room to haggle down.

Reveal your current salary when negotiating

Outside the US, the hiring manager may ask what you are currently earning, which can be awkward if you feel you are currently being underpaid. It might be tempting to lie, but if you're unhappy with your current pay, tell them why. Include all your benefits, bonuses and confidently explain the figure you're hoping for and make the case for why, says commercial litigation attorney Victoria Pynchon.

Professional man walks away past shopHave a walk away point

Know your limits and your expectations. Be clear in your mind of your ‘walk away’ point - the figure you’re not comfortable dropping below.  Base this on your financial need and the market value of the role, but keep in mind the role itself. Why are you interviewing for the position in the first place? Is your passion for the work worth lowering your salary expectations?

Get help negotiating your salary

Speaking with a specialist recruiter can help you understand your worth, contextually. At Selby Jennings, we can evaluate your profile against the wider talent market, as well as align your expectations with that of our current client base. We'll can help you pitch your value at the right price during the salary negotiation process. Get in touch for personal advice.