Whether you have just received a new job offer or you have been in the same job for a while and feel you deserve a pay rise, negotiating for a higher salary can be a daunting prospect. However, most employers are familiar with the process and expect some employees to negotiate their salaries within reason.
Asking anyone for more money is an inescapably uncomfortable situation, but with the right guidance, preparation, and practice, you can ensure that your salary negotiations go as smoothly as possible.
So how do you negotiate your salary? How should you prepare? And what should you expect?
We are going to explore all this and more as we take you through a step-by-step guide on how to negotiate a salary.
Salary negotiation is a process in which an employee approaches their employer or hiring manager and requests an increase in their amount of pay or other perks. Salary negotiation often takes place at the start of a new job, but it can happen at any point during the course of employment.
Some employers are open to salary negotiations, while others may be less so. You should not be deterred from asking for a meeting about it, even if you think your request will be rejected. In every outcome, try to keep your negotiations and dialogue friendly and good-natured with your employer.
So let's jump in and find out when is the best time to negotiate a salary.
People often choose to negotiate a salary when they first start a job. For example, if you applied for a job that advertised a salary between £25,000 - £30,000 (dependent on experience), and you are offered a salary of £27,000, you may want to negotiate up to £30,000 if you feel your experience is adequate.
You may also want to negotiate your salary upon starting a new job if the salary was not advertised in the job description and you believe the job deserves more money than has been offered.
Similarly, if you have been in the same job for a long time, developed within the role, and maybe even begun to take on additional duties, you might want to negotiate a higher salary.
In both scenarios, it is appropriate to enter into salary negotiations when you feel that your experience, responsibilities, and skillset are at a level that should be better valued by your employer.
To begin negotiating your salary, you should approach your company's hiring manager, the HR manager, or your line manager. If you work for a very small company, it may be appropriate to talk to the company director.
So let's now take a look at a simple step-by-step guide on how to negotiate a salary.
Research industry salary trends
When you enter salary negotiations with your employer, you must be as informed as possible, so do your research.
Look at other workplaces and job opportunities to get an idea of the salary range that someone with your experience level can expect. You can also find the average salary for various industries and professions on websites such as Prospects, Indeed, and Glassdoor.
If you begin your salary negotiations expecting an unrealistic wage rise, you will likely be disappointed and weaken your bargaining position as your employer will quickly recognise that you do not have a comprehensive understanding of the industry.
Similarly, you may also underestimate the amount someone with your experience could earn, and without a good amount of research, you could ask for a lower salary than you deserve.
So, after conducting thorough industry research, you should enter your salary negotiations with a minimum salary you would be willing to accept based on your skills and experience and a realistic desired salary that you can aim for in the negotiations to serve as a maximum.
Build a case for yourself
If you want to negotiate a higher salary, you must believe that your work merits one. You shouldn't just enter into the negotiations with a series of salary figures and industry research; you need to have a clear idea of why you deserve one.
Come up with a list of your strengths and any skills that directly benefit the company. Highlight specific instances in which your work and talents have advanced a project or helped a colleague.
You should also note down any qualifications, certifications, or additional training you have that strengthen your abilities in your current role.
A good employer will notice your hard work, but it is up to you to compile all your strengths and make your case for a higher salary.
Honesty is crucial in salary negotiations, and it covers a lot of ground.
You should be completely honest and transparent with the hiring manager about any research you have done. If they find you were lying when you said you saw a similar job advert with a much higher salary, they are unlikely to look kindly upon the other proceedings within the negotiations.
And you should also be honest about any limitations or weaknesses you have. If there are areas in which you know you could improve or skills you need to develop, then don't pretend that you have those abilities and use them as part of the case as to why you should be rewarded with a higher salary.
Maybe you do deserve a higher salary, but not as high as you initially thought it would be.
In all instances, honesty is paramount. And in the end, your employer will regard your continued honesty as a trait worth valuing.
Consider requesting additional perks
Your employer or hiring manager may be more open to the notion of offering you additional perks rather than a direct salary increase.
Think about what perks you would be open to as part of the negotiations. This may include extra holidays, a company car, gym membership, flexible working hours, or a remote working option.
And remember, if, for example, your employer doesn't offer you a direct salary rise, but they say they would be open to you moving to a four-day working week, you can freelance on that day to bring in some extra money to contribute to an overall income rise.
Practice the negotiations
Asking for a salary raise can be nerve-wracking! If you have a colleague, manager, partner, friend, or relative who would be willing to play your hiring manager, then take them up on the offer and put in some practice before the meeting.
Ideally, the person you practice with would have some negotiation experience within the industry you are working in. If not, they should at least have a good amount of interview experience within their field.
Think about the different directions the negotiations could take and try to be prepared and well-practiced for every eventuality.
Be friendly and stay positive
When you are in the middle of your negotiations, remember to keep a friendly tone with your manager and remain positive no matter the outcome.
As much as you may dread the prospect of negotiating a salary, your hiring manager is unlikely to enjoy the process any more than you. Keeping the negotiations positive and friendly is also more likely to ingratiate you to your employers and mean that - whatever the negotiations lead to - you will remain on good terms.
Withdraw when you need to
If, after a reasonable period of negotiating, you find that your employer simply won't budge or has offered the maximum raise they are willing to offer, then you should see that as a sign that the negotiations are over.
Dragging negotiations out longer than needed can be frustrating for your employer and may end up consigning you to their bad books. You want to remain on good terms, and the negotiations should be kept good-natured and respectful.
If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you can look for other job opportunities elsewhere. Your current employer will still need to give you a reference, so don't risk ruining your relationship with them by pushing too hard in the negotiations.
Formalise your agreement in writing
If and when you and your hiring manager settle on a new salary package, be sure to request any necessary written documentation. This may be in the form of a contract, a written agreement, or an email correspondence.
The documentation should include the new salary details, any agreed bonuses, perks, and an outline of your agreed job title and description.
Any written agreement should also be signed by both you and your employer.
Many people never enter into salary negotiations either because they are unaware of such a thing or they are too nervous about doing so. However, you are well within your rights to negotiate your salary, whether you have just started a new job or been in the same position for a while. Equally, your employer is well within their rights to refuse you a salary increase.
Whatever the outcome of your negotiations, be sure to keep things cordial and light-hearted with your employer. And follow our salary negotiation tips to give you the best chance of getting the raise you deserve.