A survey by Salary.com revealed that just 37% of employees always aim to negotiate their salary at performance reviews or job interviews whilst 18% never do. The reason for the reticence in this area, which is in fact crucial to job acceptance, is fear. Fear is most often a consequence of ignorance, lack of preparation or organisation.
In the third of this series of blog posts, we will provide you with some important tips on how best to ask the question itself, and how to ensure that you get the best possible deal for you.
Name Your Number
The first number that is named will set the tone for the whole conversation. This is called the ‘anchor figure’, so make sure you get your number in first - but make it higher than you would actually want. This can be effective for many reasons, firstly it will ensure that you don’t walk out with a lower increase than you had hoped for - effectively wasting you and your company's time for a package that suited nobody.
Secondly it also gives the companies negotiator the belief that they have been successful in getting a better deal for the company and thus reduces the pressure on yourself that a large wage increase can often bring with it. When in fact they have ‘bartered’ the salary package down to what your original aim was.
By naming a high price - within reason obviously - there is nothing to be lost. The worst that can possibly happen is that your employer submits a counter offer allowing negotiations to begin.
Don’t ever be tempted to use the word ‘ between’ when you are negotiating a salary figure. Many people will open themselves up to potential losses by saying that they are “looking for a figure between 40 and £45,000”. The person you are negotiating with will automatically focus on the smaller of the numbers given as the starting point, something which will often lead to you receiving the minimum amount you had hoped for.
So be precise, have an exact figure in mind and stick with it.
Polite but Focused
Be respectful to your new companies offer, but politely highlight what you feel you will bring to the organisation along with what you feel would be a suitable fee for your services.
Rebecca Thorman of the US News and World Report suggests the following structure as a polite but firm way of maximising your earning potential: ““I’m really excited to work here, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I appreciate the offer at £58,000, but was really expecting to be in the £65,000 range based on my experience, drive, and performance. Can we look at a salary of £65,000 for this position?”
So be kind but assertive in what you are asking for, and you should be able to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
Market Value is Key
Speak to recruiters and other professionals in your industry and discover what your market value is. Then use this to focus any discussion away from percentage rises or other similar factors. They should be prepared to meet this at the very minimum, but by highlighting your achievements you should be able to increase your salary above this level.
Make sure that you prioritise what you want most from your new salary package. Before you even begin to enter negotiations around a new job offer create a list of key areas such as wages, location, annual leave allowance and other benefits. Be prepared to offer to sacrifice some areas that are less important to you to get more of what you want.
This should allow you, and the negotiator, to make a salary package that is ideally suited to you as an individual.
Don’t Get Personal
I suspect many of us have done it at some stage, we’ve mentioned our personal situation as a reason for requesting a pay rise. Issues like increasing rent, the cost of childcare or even the greater cost of living in general are commonly given as reasons for asking for a rise.
These are problems that are likely to be experienced by your co-worker as well however, and so they don’t set you apart from the crowd. Instead focus on your performance, your achievements and the reasons why you deserve an increase in pay. That is the key to successful negotiations.
Everybody likes having their opinions heard, so often asking the representative you are negotiating with what they feel a suitable salary would be - after detailing your reasons for why you believe you are worth more - will often flatter the them into taking your viewpoint and therefore agreeing with your request, or only altering it slightly.
Email if You Can
In the past all negotiating would have been done either over the phone or face-to-face, but with email fast becoming the number one communication tool in business, don’t be afraid to use it. It is less nerve-wracking than the other two more traditional options and it will encourage you to stick to a structure. If you decide to use it however, then make sure that the tone of the emails remain conversational, and that you are open and honest about your demands and expectations, just like you would be in a conversation.
Listen to what your counter-negotiator is saying, show empathy with them and create a relationship where both of you are able to connect and work together for the most suitable outcome.
No Means Negotiate
Don’t fear an instant rejection from your company, it’s not a negotiation if they just agree, so be prepared for a ‘no’ and have a plan of response lined up. Negotiation is a conversation between two people with different goals, so don’t take a ‘no’ personally, use it as a starting point for negotiating a new deal that suits both individuals.
That was the penultimate part of our guide on how to successfully negotiate your salary. Make sure to check back regularly for final installment - dealing with the answer - which will be online soon.