11 tips for your next salary negotiation
In the face of economic downturns, inflation, and rising rent and grocery bills, securing fair and competitive compensation has never been more crucial. Rising costs and shifting market trends leave many professionals wondering: "Am I being paid what I deserve?" Navigating salary negotiations can be complex, often shrouded in uncertainty and anxiety.
Our global workplace study, involving over 3,400 professionals and 600+ employers, revealed that 57% expect that their salary will increase in 2024, and with the right negotiation skills this can also be true in your case.
This article dives deep into proven, actionable strategies that empower you to prepare, research, and advocate for your worth.
Here are 11 suggestions for what you can do before, during, and after your salary negotiation.
Before your salary negotiation
Benchmark against the industry average: To find out what a reasonable salary is for the job and industry you are moving to, use our Salary Guide Calculator to discover the average pay for someone with a similar level of experience as you.
You could also approach recruitment consultants who are specialised in your area to get a better idea of market salaries in your industry. Or even go one step further and speak to existing employees in the company with your title or similar responsibilities about what they earn.
Consider the total compensation package: Is the benefit selection diverse, and do they empower you to develop professionally? Companies may not be able to budge on actual payment, but valuable additional perks such as upskilling opportunities, flexible work patterns, insurance, etc. (which is where a lot of your job satisfaction will come from) that don’t cost a huge amount could be swaying factors when it comes to accepting a salary that’s less than you may have initially hoped for. Consider this before heading into your salary negotiation as our research shows that 59% of employees feel neutral or dissatisfied with their current benefits package.
For example, is there a qualification that you want to do but don’t have the time or money for? If it will help your professional development, your new employer may be willing to pay for the course and allow you to take some time out to complete it.
Find out whether there are any limitations: There may well be set salary caps that mean you cannot exceed a certain amount.
If you can learn what they are, it will help you reach what should be an acceptable figure and whether there is any room for flexibility or not. If there are money limitations, think about where they could be more flexible, such as flexibility around working hours, additional annual leave, funded training/professional development, and other additional benefits to choose from.
Build up your confidence: Confidence comes from knowing your worth and value. If you have done the research (use our Salary Guide Calculator to help you), you are empowered with the knowledge of what you’re worth, and that will convey confidence.
If you can, try and speak to other people who have had negotiations at the company to get insider tips. If not, have a role-play practice run-through with a friend or family member to ease your mind before the real thing.
During your salary negotiation
Salary negotiations are rarely straightforward, and you might feel uncomfortable approaching this topic. If that is the case, consider using a recruitment agency for your job search, as recruitment consultants will negotiate salaries on your behalf, so you don’t have to have that conversation with your future employer directly!
- Be truthful about your past salary: You want to get as high a salary as possible, but you have to be realistic and honest. The hiring manager will know a rough bracket of what your previous job pays; honesty is the best policy!
- Wait for your manager to state a figure: Obviously, you will already have an amount in mind, but by letting your employer outline a figure first in the meeting, you can then use that as your starting point and gently nudge it higher if you think you feel you deserve more.
This is a much better tactic than going into your salary negotiation, outlining a high salary that is unattainable, and starting off the meeting in the wrong way.
- Question what they base their figure on: Try to get them to delve deeper into how they came up with the amount they have offered. This will allow you to understand your employer’s rationale and explore the areas that are more likely to be negotiable.
- Keep your reasons factual to the value you’ll add: Your new employer is more likely to offer you a higher salary (or above market rate salary) if you prove that you can add clear value and that they will subsequently see a return on that extra investment.
- Remain professional throughout the negotiation: This interaction will likely shape the hiring manager’s (or whoever your point of contact at the new company is) perception of you. Be professional and diplomatic throughout any discussions, whether they are good or bad, and they will think highly of you - this will stand you in good stead for any future discussions!
After your salary negotiation
- Accept or request a re-negotiation: A productive salary negotiation meeting was had, and, with a bit of back and forth, a figure was put forward. Now you don’t have to accept or reject it right away; you can go off and think about it under your own steam. If you decide that you’re happy after a little consideration, reach out to your point of contact to formally accept the offer. If not, you can request a follow-up meeting and re-negotiation to get to a point where all parties are satisfied with the result.
Remember: Don’t just negotiate for the sake of it - if the amount is reasonable, there’s no point jeopardising future progress reviews or salary discussions.
- Remember to get everything in writing: If you do manage to negotiate a higher salary but conversations have been had in person or over the phone, you should request to get it all confirmed in writing. This will allow you to stop thinking about it and switch your focus to more pressing matters - how you’re going to make an early impact in your new job and show your new employer that you are worth the extra expense.
Taking ownership of your career progression
At the end of the day, it is your career, and it is up to you to take ownership of this matter. Whether it is securing the highest salary possible or meeting a compromise and focusing more on other benefits, you should decide what is best for your particular career path.
Your new employer (or existing one if you moved internally) will want to make sure you receive fair compensation. Whether you have taken on more responsibilities or a greater level of seniority compared to your previous job, they are going to want to see justification for the salary you have negotiated. It’s now up to you to thrive and display just how much you are worth to the business.