So, you’ve sailed through the screening and initial interviews, have impressed the managers and senior executives with your credentials, skill set and overall enthusiasm and are now in final interview stage. There is a niggling issue though, and that is that you feel you are worth more than they’re prepared to give. How do you negotiate a higher starting salary without taking yourself out of the running for the role?
Here are 9 tips on how to best prepare yourself for asking for a higher starting salary so that you come out smiling, with job and package signed and sealed.
9 best tips to securing a higher starting salary
1. Do your research
Learn as much as you can about the pay scale of the company that wants to hire you. Find out the industry average, as well. You may aspire to a career in scheduling at a major airline, but if their practice is to hire from within, you might need to accept an entry-level position. There may factors limiting flexibility on salary levels, no matter how many university degrees you have so be realistic when asking for a higher starting salary.
As part of your research, you need to have a clear idea of what your minimum salary expectations are. Do the maths in advance and decide what your deal-breaker point is. There’s no point wasting your time — and theirs — interviewing for a low-paying job in a company or industry that may not be able to offer the wages you need.
2. Don’t tip your hand
Leave the salary expectation question blank on application forms, and don’t mention a specific salary level in your cover letters. You want to get past the paper screening into the “to be considered” file without anyone thinking your anticipated salary is too high.
3. Understand your value
Consider whether you are in a position of power. If you’re in high demand elsewhere, you have leverage. Draw attention to it, but be careful not to emphasise it too much. Avoid acting overly confident or cocky. It’s OK to mention that you have interviews at other companies, but don’t try to force a favourable decision.
4. Let the company bring up the salary negotiation issue
Avoid being the first to propose a salary figure. Tell them you’re interested in a mutually rewarding career with the company and you’re sure you can agree on an acceptable compensation package. If you’re backed into a corner, introduce your salary range, but make it clear that it is “up for discussion.” Don’t ramble on. Say what you have to and then be quiet and listen.
5. Emphasise the benefits of your skills
When you talk about your last job, describe your accomplishments. Quantify your successes in terms of cost savings, increased productivity and overall contribution to the company. This will help the interviewers recognise the benefits of having you join their team, and will help boost the salary offer. If you earned performance bonuses or incentive awards, mention those so that you’ll be viewed as an achiever, well worth top dollar.
6. Think before you speak
Listen to how the offer is presented. When the interviewer or prospective new boss states a salary figure, nod your head to signify you’re considering it, but keep quiet. If they’re low-balling you, the figure could make a quick jump in those few moments of consideration.
7. Be reasonable
From your research, you know the offer is low. What do you counter at? If you choose 10%, you may have to accept a saw-off at 5%. It’s a calculated risk to walk away from a job offer. They might call you back with a revised starting salary or they might just close your file and hire someone else if they feel you’ve been greedy, arrogant or overly demanding.
8. Be prepared to be flexible
If you want this job, consider agreeing to start at the salary level they’re offering, so long as they offer additional bonuses for specific accomplishments. Be prepared to define them. Money is important, but consider the complete compensation package. Negotiate other perks and benefits and get them in writing. Ask about the frequency of potential salary increases. As with any negotiation, your goal is to create a win-win situation.
9. Finally – believe in yourself!
Sometimes the only way you can get a higher starting salary is by being actively sought for your position. Other times, you may have to demonstrate that you have the exact skills the company needs and, if you play your cards right, you may land the job you want at a higher starting salary that you required.
In all cases, being well prepared, using a little psychology and practicing your marketing and negotiation skills will help you gain the higher starting salary.