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How to handle salary negotiations

Written by: Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisors
Published on: Apr 30, 2021

How to handle salary negotiations

This is a tricky scenario for even the most seasoned of professionals, getting the salary that you want (and deserve) without over-negotiating is a fine line.

The first point to make is that many larger companies have a salary band for each role that they cannot exceed no matter what the candidate wants.

Secondly, if you negotiate the top end of the salary bracket, you might get a very small or non-existent annual pay rise until you get promoted (unless they change the pay scale for that salary band), and you’ll get a smaller bonus. HR departments focus on ‘total compensation’ and as most bonuses are discretionary and confidential, any hard negotiating and subsequent extra salary will simply find itself being removed from one’s bonus.

Help from intermediaries

If you receive a job offer through a recruitment agency, the situation is slightly easier because they have a vested interest in getting you the best salary possible (because they make a bigger fee that is calculated as a percentage of your first year’s annual salary) without over-negotiating to the point that an alternative candidate is offered the position.

The agency acts as a buffer between you and the company and for the most part, you should trust their judgement as their agenda is going to be similar to yours i.e., get you the highest salary possible without preventing an offer.

Three Year Earning Plan

Many people focus very heavily on the starting salary rather than the earning potential over the medium term. It’s natural to think this way but the savvy job seeker thinks longer term.

One might get an offer of £30k starting salary and find themselves on £32k in year 2 and £35k in year 3 – that’s £97k in salary earnings over three years. A different scenario might be that someone starts a similar job on £28k, gets a pay rise to £35k in year 2 and £40k in year 3 – that’s a grand total of £103k over three years. You get the point!

It’s prudent to discuss earning potential with a potential employer when discussing salary/remuneration.

Performance Related Pay

Some positions are harder to measure than others when negotiating a remuneration package, but deeper negotiations can be had to agree on a performance-related element to your pay if you meet or exceeding your targets.

Once again, when negotiating this element, think longer term and factor in the achievability of your targets. I would recommend trying to iron out these elements and be very proactive in agreeing on targets and PRP levels before starting the role – employers can be notoriously woolly about these things and you can find yourself with high or unachievable targets that simply set you up for failure.

Further help

Look out for our upcoming webinars and if you are interested in working with a professional CV/resume writer or career coach to give yourself the edge, The Association has negotiated some discounted services on your behalf which you can explore here.


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