Often interviews contain a discussion about salary expectations. If handled correctly, this can go a long way towards helping you maximise your earnings. Here’s what to do.
Give a good interview
It is crucial to understand that salary negotiation starts the second you walk into the interview room, not when the discussion turns to money. In other words, one of the most important things you need to do to maximise what the employer is willing to pay you is to really stand out during the entire course of the interview. Clearly, employers are much more predisposed to giving away more of their money if they think they will be getting value.
Do your research
Trying to negotiate your salary without having done basic research is a bit like trying to hit a target blindfolded. Your research should focus on two areas. First, find out what the market is paying for people such as yourself. You will need to take into account all your qualifications, experience and key achievements. Importantly, you will also need to take into account the industry you will be working in because some industries pay more than others for people of comparable experience and abilities. The same goes with location. Salary survey firms, good recruitment consultants and relevant professional organisations can usually provide you with reliable salary information. Be sure all your sources are credible and that you use more than one. Your case will quickly collapse (as might your credibility) if your sources are found wanting—and they will be if you’re facing an experienced negotiator who knows the market. Never go on hearsay and never quote what your friends claim they earn.
Your second area of research should focus on the company itself. You may not be able to get all the information you want, but this should not stop you from trying (just don’t make a nuisance of yourself). Things to investigate include:
1. Remuneration policies
Sometimes, especially with smaller companies, there is a noticeable absence of such policies. However, if they do exist and you’re able to access them, you may be able to use this information to your benefit. For example, if you know that the company reviews performance and salaries every six months, you might be able to negotiate a deferment of a higher salary until you’ve had six months in which to prove yourself on the job rather than accept a lower amount for an indefinite period.
2. Levels of pay
This can be tricky because information regarding people’s pay is often shrouded in mystery. But if you are able to get an insight you will at least know what you’re up against. Knowing, for example, that the company is inclined to pay its employees above market value can be a very useful piece of information when negotiating salary.
3. How well the company is travelling
Companies which are doing well are generally more inclined to pay more than companies which are struggling financially. The last thing you want to be doing is selling yourself short for a company that is riding high.
4. How desperate they are to fill the position
Some jobs are harder to fill than others, whilst other jobs are crucial to the success of the company. If your research indicates that the position you’re applying for happens to fall in either of these categories, then it is reasonable to assume that you have greater leverage in your negotiating.
Avoid mentioning money up front
An important principle in negotiating salary is leaving the discussions right to the end. The idea is to make as good an impression as humanly possible before talk about money arises. This is no different from any salesperson trying to sell a product. Price is only mentioned after all the great features and benefits of the product are discussed. To talk about price before highlighting features and benefits doesn’t make for a good sales approach, nor does it make for good salary negotiations. First talk about your skills and knowledge and how they can benefit the business before quoting your price.
The first principle
The first principle of quoting employers a range of money that you’re willing to consider is realism. Quoting unrealistically high amounts will more than likely damage your credibility and can undo much of the good work you put have in. The following guidelines are designed to help you work out a range.
Work out a range
Once you’ve worked out your bottom line, it is important that you stick to it. Accepting a lesser amount will more than likely lead to disappointment later on. Your minimum amount will represent the absolute bottom point of your salary range. How wide you wish to make the range should be contingent upon all the factors discussed above, but mainly on what the market is paying and your levels of experience.