How to Negotiate the Best Salary and Package
If you have in-demand skills and an impressive CV, you could be selling yourself short if you don’t negotiate a salary offer.
It is perhaps no surprise that many of us, even seasoned professionals, are just not comfortable negotiating a salary package with a potential employer.
Whether it’s the fear of losing out on an opportunity, or the perceived stress in instigating a negotiation – particularly if the salary offered is reasonable to begin with – it can be a challenging process.
Part of the reason for asking for a higher salary when you start a new job is because you are leaving the relative safety of your previous job – and for the first 6 months – 2 years (depending on level) you will have fewer employment rights. There is also the fear of giving up the continuous service in favour of a scenario of being ‘last in and first out’. Many job seekers are even more likely to feel this way now than they did before COVID-19.
Part of the reason for asking for a higher salary when you start a new job is because you are leaving the relative safety of your previous job.
However, even in the current climate, companies still compete for the same candidates in their search for specialised skills – and so in-demand professionals can still command competitive salaries.
Salary negotiation is a skill. Like any other skill, it can be learned and achieved with a little homework and the right tools. Below are some of our top tips to get you started and help you achieve a compensation package you can be happy with.
Four questions you should ask yourself first
- Are you comfortable with the organisation?
- Are you comfortable that they are financially secure?
- Are you comfortable with the job itself?
- Are you comfortable with the people you have met?
Peter Hardy, Managing Director at psd, has over 30 years of recruiting experience – and he believes these are the four most important questions to answer before you consider negotiating salary and package. Sometimes, people can get so caught up in salary and benefits that they neglect other crucial factors.
Look a few years ahead – where is this move going to take your career? While you are focused on getting through the ‘entry door’ of the organisation, you also need to think about whether the role will give you the chance to develop your knowledge and skills and ultimately elevate your career in the way you want, or could you become stuck and institutionalised.
There is no point in negotiating a salary if you are not happy with the organisation, the people and the opportunity.
Do your homework
Before you enter into a salary negotiation, you will need to make sure you are informed of current market rates in your industry and for your specialist field, as well as your position, geographical location and level of experience.
A good search consultant will be able to give you up-to-the-minute insight on the current compensation landscape and what you can expect in terms of salary and benefits package. They will also give you insight into the company, their remuneration structure and guide you on salary expectations.
A good search consultant will be able to give you up-to-the-minute insight on the current compensation landscape and what you can expect in terms of salary and benefits package.
Always look at the whole picture – try not to focus solely on salary. There are other elements that contribute to overall job satisfaction, such as flexibility, travel time, company culture, coaching and career development prospects. Increasingly, benefits are becoming far more wide ranging – think about what is valuable to you.
Remember to look at salary in the round – base salary is but one component. Will you have access to join a long-term incentive program, or participate in an equity scheme?
It will work to your benefit if you are clear in your mind about what is important to you from the very beginning and communicate that to the search consultant you are working with. It is your responsibility to make sure you have control over the process. Ideally, you should provide absolute clarity from the outset and provide your current compensation details and what you would expect from the role.
As with any negotiation – first understand your objective, know where your boundaries are, then frame your proposal in a positive and constructive light.
Back it up
Make sure that your compensation requests are reasonable, well-supported and justified. You need to help the search consultant, hiring manager or even your potential new boss understand how your strengths and experience will impact their business and bottom line. Where possible, quantify the value you will add to the organisation.
Remember, you may be unconsciously illustrating how you are more valuable than others they have hired at the same level, so think about how to communicate this in a likeable way!
It is not unusual for salary negotiations to go back and forth until an acceptable compromise is reached. If the company comes back with a counteroffer that accepts your essential compensation needs, it might be wise to accept. Haggling over the small things to make a point could damage your future employers feeling towards hiring you – and may not be worth compromising an opportunity.
If the company comes back with a counteroffer that accepts your essential compensation needs, it might be wise to accept.
A salary negotiation is not about getting the upper hand. If you handle the salary negotiation process professionally and reasonably, it’s highly unlikely you will lose out on an opportunity, and more likely both parties will be happy with the outcome.
The good news is your recruitment consultant will be on hand to help you through the salary negotiation process. They are expert communicators so be open and honest about what you hope to achieve.
By following the steps above, you will be in a much better position to put forward a well thought out, justified case which will boost your chances of getting the best offer for you, while ensuring your new employer is thrilled to be bringing you on board.