Congratulations! You’ve just been offered your dream job! (Those CV and interview tips really did come in handy, after all, didn’t they?) There’s just one slight, teeny-tiny issue, though: the salary is a bit low, so you’re not entirely sure whether you should accept the job.
But before you start writing a job offer rejection email, perhaps you should consider asking for a better salary? Not sure how to do that? Don’t worry – help is at hand!
Check out our tips and advice on how to negotiate a higher salary when you’ve just received a new job offer!
1. Know Your Value
First things first, do your homework. Research how much other professionals are earning in similar roles within your industry and geographical location – salary comparison sites like Glassdoor and PayScale can prove extremely useful here. Remember: if you walk into a salary negotiation without knowing how much you’re worth, the hiring manager will simply take control of the conversation and likely offer you less than your market value.
They say that practice makes perfect for a reason. Asking a trusted friend or family member to role-play with you is an excellent way to practise your negotiation skills, and also get constructive feedback about the areas you need to improve. You might also want to consider listing all the main points you’d like to make during the actual salary negotiation which you feel can support your case for higher pay.
3. Arrange a Meeting
It’s important that you discuss your salary expectations in person with the hiring manager (or even over the phone). If you can, try scheduling the meeting for a Thursday. Why? Well, because people tend to be more open to negotiation and compromise on Thursdays (Fridays, too), according to Debbie Moskowitz, PhD, a psychologist at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
4. Ask Questions
Make it a point to ask your potential employer diagnostic questions like ‘What are the company’s biggest priorities/challenges right now?’ This will provide you with valuable insight which you can then use to offer smart solutions and build your case for how you can help and why you deserve the salary you’re asking for. If they flinch or otherwise react negatively to the number you proposed, try asking ‘What is the budget for this position based on?’ or ‘How can I help you move more in my direction?’
5. Prove Your Worth
You’ll need to do a lot more than simply telling the employer that you ‘deserve’ the salary you’re asking for (on a side note, nothing puts off an employer more than an entitled candidate!). You need to show what you can do to prove your worth, and you can do this by reflecting on your previous achievements and offering examples of a time you helped contribute to a past employer’s successes.
6. Be Specific
Never, ever give a range – for example, ‘I’m looking for between £30k and £35k’. Chances are the employer will directly go to the lower end of the range. If £30k is indeed the lowest you’re willing to go, don’t tell employers that! Instead, ask for £35k– this gives you an extra £5,000 to bargain with.
7. Be the First to Mention a Number
The first number that’s laid on the table sets the stage for the entire salary negotiation. If a potential employer puts their number out first – let’s say £50k – and you’re looking for £60k, chances are the final offer will be closer to the £50k mark than to your proposal. On the other hand, if you put your number out there first, you’ve got a better chance of actually getting it (or at least something a little closer to it).
8. Ask for More than What You Want
If £35k is the top end of your salary range, you might want to consider asking for a little bit more than that. For one, the hiring manager will feel like they’re getting a better deal if they negotiate down to £35k and, two, you end up getting more money than you hoped for.
9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Too Much
The worst that can happen if you negotiate for a higher amount is the employer comes back with a counteroffer. On the other hand, the worst thing that can happen if you don’t negotiate at all is you don’t get anything close to your desired salary.
10. Don’t Negotiate Just for the Sake of Negotiating
You’re a great negotiator and you might want to demonstrate your negotiation skills to the employer, but negotiating just for the sake of it makes you look difficult and inflexible – a trap that many people, especially recent graduates who are just entering the workforce, easily fall into. You should only negotiate your salary when you have a valid reason and can back your case up with cold, hard facts.
11. Don’t Mention Personal Needs
Before you start playing the world’s smallest violin about how rent has gone up, childcare expenses have doubled and you have a mortgage to pay off, understand that the hiring manager might be dealing with the same things as you. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take your personal and financial needs into account when considering a new job offer but rather that you avoid using your particular situation as a pity-party to get the salary that you want. Remember: you’re negotiating a better salary based on your skills and experience, not your financial situation or luxurious lifestyle.
By really listening to what the employer is saying, you’re able to get a clear and thorough understanding of where they’re coming from. Armed with the information you glean from early on in the discussion (and throughout), you’ll be able to tailor your argument to their needs and incorporate them into finding a solution both parties will be happy with.
13. Don’t Lie about Your Previous Salary
It’s easy to see why you’d be tempted to inflate the salary you earned at a previous job – you probably think you’ll get a better offer if a potential employer thinks you were earning more than what you actually were. And it’s true: it might even work. But, my advice would be to stick to the facts as it’s highly likely that they’ll find out the truth further down the line and they’ll no doubt lose any trust in you.
14. Don’t Be Greedy
We would all love to make millions each month but, unfortunately for us, we’re not Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. You could be the most skilled, qualified and experienced candidate in the world, but that’s not a good enough reason to ask for a ridiculous amount of money. Even if you really are the best of the best, you’ll come across as arrogant and greedy, and the opportunity to work at a great company will slip right through your fingers.
15. Use Email Where Appropriate
The general rule of thumb is to negotiate your starting salary in person or over the phone. And that’s because you’re able to adjust your script as necessary based on the feedback you’re receiving from the hiring manager and even their body language. Having said that, though, there’s no harm in using email, as long as it’s done correctly. Try to mimic a real-life conversation as much as possible by infusing empathy and openness to your message – this will help you avoid any potentially disastrous misunderstandings!
16. Don’t Rush Your Decision
One of the biggest mistakes people make when negotiating higher pay for a new job is accepting or flat-out declining an offer too quickly. Most employers will typically give you a few days to contemplate their offer. Remember that you have the power now (after all, they chose to offer the job to you), so take advantage of this time to make a carefully weighed decision or to return with a counteroffer. But don’t take too long – they won’t wait for you forever!
17. Consider Other Options
Be prepared for the possibility that your salary expectations may be way outside the company’s budget. This is especially true for smaller sized businesses. But don’t lose hope just yet. If the gap between your ideal salary and the one they’re offering isn’t too big, you might want to consider negotiating other things like benefits, paid leave, working hours, homeworking and even stock options.
18. Know When to Walk Away
If the company is unwilling to budge, and the pay isn’t what you expected or compensated by additional benefits or career development, you might have to come to terms with the fact that the job might not be a good fit for you, after all. Having said that, resist the urge to scoff or laugh at their offer – no matter how ridiculous or insulting it is – and to decline their offer with tact and diplomacy. In other words, don’t be bitter and say something like ‘I’m worth so much more than that’ or ‘Company ABC also made me an offer and they’re offering me more money than what you are’. It’s immature and unprofessional.
19. Don’t Give an Ultimatum
I mentioned earlier that receiving a job offer gives you a little bit of control over what happens next. But that doesn’t mean that you should give the employer an ultimatum: ‘I want 200k. Take it or leave it’. Chances are they’ll leave it.
20. Get it in Writing
Whatever deal you reach with the employer, whether it’s the salary that you wanted or additional benefits, make sure that you have everything in writing. This will effectively avoid any misunderstandings or having the wool pulled over your eyes. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Have you ever negotiated a higher salary for a new job? Have any other tips you’d like to share with us? Join the conversation down below and let us know!
Don’t forget to check out the top 10 highest paying jobs in the UK!