The best time to negotiate pay is once an employer has decided they want to hire you – but how do you know what you’re worth or how much to ask for? And can you ever get more money once you’re actually in the job? We asked the career experts how to negotiate salary at every stage in your job hunt…
Before the interview… find out what salary is on offer
Many companies choose not to reveal the package on offer, instead writing “salary dependent on experience” on job ads – but that’s not to say you shouldn’t ask.
‘If it’s not clear on the advert then phone to ask before you put an application in or ask the agency to find out. They should at least give you a range. Otherwise you are potentially wasting your time and theirs.’
Find out your market value
No idea what the position might pay – or if you’re getting the going rate? Visit an online salary site like Pay Scale. Input the job title and details (how much experience/qualifications the role requires, location, whether it involves supervising others, etc) and it will give you a typical market rate.
You can also look up the company on Glassdoor, where employees reveal what the salary and perks are like, as well as revealing their level of job satisfaction.
It’s also worth speaking to industry recruitment consultants and peers working in the sector, as they may be able to give you a benchmark figure. And check job adverts to see the salary offered by similar roles.
‘In the public sector, salaries are more transparent – in the private sector it’s up to the individual to negotiate the best deal. Because budgets are set across the organisation for recruitment in the public sector, there’s often less room for flexibility.’
During the interview… keep your cards close to your chest
When it comes to the interview, Corinne advises not talking about salary if you can avoid it. ‘Say that you feel this is a great opportunity and if it’s a good fit for both parties, then you are sure that it will be easy to agree a salary.
‘If they persist, give them a wide range that encompasses what you think they are likely to pay, then say that you would need to know more about the scope of the job and the total benefits package including bonus structure, pension etc.
‘The aim is to convince them that you are the right person for the job and then when they have offered it to you, start negotiating.’
Once a job offer is made… now’s the time to negotiate
The time to negotiate your salary is once you have been offered the job and you know they want to hire you, as this is when there is room for manoeuvre, says Corrine.
‘Firstly, be enthusiastic and show that you want the position. Then say that you had hoped for something a little higher, or talk about how taking the job involves extra expense like increased commuting costs or the difference in pension contributions between your last job and this. It’s often possible to bump your salary up this way.
‘However, don’t back yourself into a corner because they may consider withdrawing the offer if they think that you will be off looking for another opportunity as soon as you can.’
Going beyond your current salary
Some employers ask you for your current salary on application forms or at the interview. What you’re paid now will impact on their offer – but there are ways to talk this up.
‘Many employers appreciate that candidates may have taken a drop in pay to gain work experience or change career paths,’ says David. ‘If you shine at interview and can persuade them of the contribution you would make to the company, you should be able to get more.
‘Likewise, if you have to take a salary drop to move into a new industry, discuss what opportunities there are for promotion. You may be willing to take less money if the company will fund development or review your situation in a year. If that’s the case, be explicit. You need some kind of confirmation/commitment that this will actually happen.’
If you’ve already accepted an offer and started in the job… prove you’re worth more
The best time to negotiate salary is once you’re offered the position – but that’s not to say you can’t get a pay rise once you’re in the job.
Corinne suggests benchmarking your salary internally with people in similar roles and externally in your industry. ‘Check out those internal vacancy bulletins and any pay grade structures. You need to know before you talk to your boss about your “market rate”.’
Choose a time when you’ve got your manager’s undivided attention and when the team/organisation appears to be doing well. ‘Show what an asset to the organisation you are, with examples of how you made or saved the organisation money, improved quality or averted disaster,’ advises Corinne.
‘Demonstrate that your job has grown in responsibility and that while you are committed to working for the organisation, your pay should reflect this bigger job.’
And what if the answer is no? Corinne’s advice is to persist. ‘Ask what it would take to achieve that pay rise and when you can have this conversation again. Remember. If you don’t ask you don’t get!’
Image: © AndreyPopov – Veer.com