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Handling salary negotiations

Written by: Matt Craven, Managing Director, The CV & Interview Advisors
Published on: Apr 13, 2023

salary negotiations

When it comes to talking money, most people are a little reserved and unsure of the dos and don’ts of this tricky subject. Pat Moore, experienced Headhunter and Career Coach at CVIA Careers gives his informed view on the matter.

There’s an expectation

It’s fair to assume that most employers expect a salary negotiation on an initial job offer despite only half of candidates actually doing so. It’s not uncommon for companies to “price in” a 10% pay rise for a new recruit. If you’re on say £50k, its likely your prospective employer is already thinking of paying £55k even if they don’t offer it at first.

So, how do you make sure you get that?

Know your stuff

Make sure you’ve researched average salary trends in your sector and for your level of experience. A Google search of similar jobs in similar locations or company sizes should be sufficient to understand the market. It’s important to be realistic with yourself as to where you sit within that. How much experience do you bring? How much training and development will you need? Do you have other skills of value? Knowing all this will help you build a robust case for a better salary.

Be reasonable

This is the tricky part. What is reasonable exactly? The same salary you’re already on? A 10% uplift? 15%? 20%? First, consider the whole package. What is the pension contribution? Is there a bonus? Are there more holidays on offer? Once you have a handle on that you can better judge a reasonable position.

Prepare your case and be confident

The way you deliver your case is as important as its context. If you’re well prepared, stick to the facts and deliver them with confidence. Easier said than done, but when candidates are confident, hiring managers are more likely to maximise their offer. There is a balance though. Too much confidence and you can come across as arrogant. Too little and you’re hard to believe in. State the reasons why you think you’re worth £X, back those reasons up with market intel, be polite, and always stress how keen you are on the position and the company.

Remember, this is an opportunity to build rapport

Salary negotiation primarily benefits employees, but it does open up early communication channels that allow both parties to be open and transparent. It is an excellent opportunity for both parties to build rapport as potential colleagues.

How you handle negotiation can reveal what working with you will be like. Strong negotiation skills could highlight unseen leadership potential and a good negotiation can be a genuine win/win. If you feel you’ve achieved the best offer possible, you’ll arrive more motivated, which in turn benefits your new employer. The salary negotiation process is a time for both the employee and employer to find a middle ground where both feel satisfied with the compensation package being offered.

Think long term

Of course, there is more to a job that the pay cheque. You must put consideration into the long-term potential of a role, company, or boss. If they develop your skill set more than your current company, your salary will rise over time. Although impossible to truly know, think about where you are likely to be in 4 or 5 years. It could be that you decide not to push for the highest initial salary knowing that goodwill secured from the outset will pay dividends later on. It gives you the opportunity to say to your boss: “remember I didn’t push for more money at first? Well, now I’ve proven myself and achieved x, y or z, please can you recognise that with a promotion or