If you’re a retail buyer or procurement manager then there is probably little we can tell you about negotiating. However, for the rest of us it can be the most traumatic part of the selection process.
The trouble is, the employer will almost certainly have the upper hand in the salary negotiation. They are probably recruiting people all the time and used to this type of negotiation. You, on the other hand, may not have been looking for a job for years.
Nevertheless, it is incredibly important that you get this right. Tens of thousands of pounds may be lost if you don’t. Moreover, if you feel like you’ve been cheated it will eat away at you during your work. Conversely, if you go in too bull-headed and upset the employer you may not get the job at all.
So how do you get the best possible salary without upsetting your potential employer?
Do your research: If the job has been advertised then search the net, look at the employer’s website and try to find out the highest salary that has been advertised for that post. This will give you leverage. It may be that you know someone in the organisation. Best not to quote their salary, but at least it will let you know what might be available.
Don’t undersell your current salary. Make sure that you have included all benefits and perhaps attach a value to them. Bear in mind that a good pension scheme is worth a lot.
No one wants to be second choice. There is nothing wrong in letting the employer know you have other irons in the fire, but make sure you tell the employer that they are your first choice.
Do not assume that the salary offered is their final offer. It might be, but don’t miss out if it’s not. Be prepared to say: “I was looking for...” Follow that up with, I am really pleased to be offered…”
Before you accept any salary make sure you have the full package. Don’t agree to separate parts. If you can’t negotiate a better salary, then maybe you might get better holidays or pension.
If you get into a classic negotiation scenario, remember to trade, don’t concede. If you have to give something away, see if you can get something back in return. For example, if the job is commission based you may ask for a guaranteed commission or an extended guarantee period.
Have a good reason as to why you are worth it. The fact that you want the job or need it isn’t the best reason. In a commercial situation, it is usually how you are going to make them more money. In a non commercial role, it is how you are going to save them money.
Don’t gloat if you get your way. If you do extract a concession from the employer, reassure them that you intend to prove you’re worth it.
Give in gracefully if you don’t get the salary that you want, but you still want the job.
Finally, all negotiations should end with a win–win situation. The only good negotiation is one where both sides feel that they have done well, even if they have not got all they wanted.
Job seekers should not be shy about asking for more money. Working for an employer is a transaction the same as any other and really commercial people will want the best deal possible. After all, you might be negotiating on behalf of the new employer in your new role. You must, however, be realistic. If you’re currently earning £25k, unless there is something really special about you or the job, it would not be realistic to demand £40k.