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Extra Money – Negotiating an improvement in your salary

Money plays a big part in determining whether you stay put in your current role or start looking for a new job. There is always a balance between job satisfaction and what you get paid. Only you can decide whether the balance is right. Employers (current or future) are usually open to negotiation as long as you make a good case. The key is to be realistic at the same time as being prepared to negotiate with your employer.


A salary negotiation is never clear cut. You have to be well prepared and remain cool. A lot of whether you win or lose your salary negotiation depends upon how prepared you are to negotiate. As a general rule, salary is determined by:


  • What the company is accustomed to paying.
  • What your current salary is.
  • What level of experience and expertise you offer.


In terms of a salary increase when changing job, you can normally expect 10-20 per cent increase on your current salary. However, if you are changing profession or have been out of the workforce for a long period of time,  it would probably not be as high as this. If your new salary offer doesn’t satisfy your desires and needs, you can accept it and say nothing and enter your new job with feelings of resentment, or you can take action.


“Shed any embarrassment and stand up for what you want and feel you deserve,” says Sarah Berry. “Be bold and enter into a salary negotiation phase with the employer. This is something that a lot of people are worried to do because they are worried that they will lose the job offer.”


The basic principles are the same whatever you are negotiating. Successful salary negotiation is about achieving a win-win situation that satisfies both parties rather than a win-lose situation where one party is forced into submission or withdrawal. So consider your own needs but also take into account the employer’s needs and constraints. If you adopt and adapt the following principles you will increase your chances of success.


Decide who holds the power


Who holds the power – you or the employer? Don’t leap to conclusions because the answer may not be what you expect it to be. How much power you hold determines how high your demands can be.


You hold the power if:


  • The interview went exceptionally well.
  • You are convinced you are the best candidate (perhaps you have been told).
  • The offer came in very quickly.
  • You are a specialist in your field.
  • The company have a particular problem that urgently needs resolving and you both know that you are the person to sort out the problem.
  • You hold competitive information.
  • You have knowledge the employer wants.
  • The employer approached you, not the other way around.


The company holds the power if:


  • You are just the best of the bunch.
  • The employer was nonchalant at the interview.
  • The employer was distant.
  • The employer was vague at the interview and wouldn’t disclose certain things about the job or company.
  • The offer took a long time to come in.
  • You know there is another strong internal candidate.
  • The position is newly created – they don’t have to fill it.
  • The employer has held a number of interviews.
  • The balance of power will determine how high or low you pitch your opening bid.


Decide what you want


You can’t enter a salary negotiation unless you know what you want. Decide what it is you are after and also know what you would be prepared to accept if your demands aren’t fully met. So know what you want, but also what your “walk-away” position is. A “walk-away” position is the point at which the negotiation breaks down; this will be different for each individual, according to personal circumstances. For example, one person might not accept a job unless the conditions are changed; another might give negotiations a try and even if their demands aren’t met, they will accept the job.


For example, a client of mine was verbally offered a salary in the interview of between £30K and £33K. However, the offer letter quoted a salary figure of £29,500 – the same as his current salary. He was disappointed that there was no increase in money, especially as it had been hinted at in the interview. The client decided he wanted an increase of some sort, and his “walk-away” position was that unless he achieved this, he wouldn’t take the job.


Putting your case forward


It is advisable to test the water verbally first, to arrange a discussion/meeting and then if need be put your case in writing. Adopt a businesslike manner and choose your wording carefully. Thank the person for the offer and say how keen you are to accept the job once the salary is finalised. Share your disappointment and suggest a meeting to discuss it. At the meeting, you can state your figure depending upon who you feel holds the power. What tradeables would you accept?


A salary review after a specified period of time?

Overtime pay?

A shortening of the period of time after which you will be able to buy company shares?

Benefits of a higher grade, such as pension entitlements, medical or company car rights?

A greater holiday entitlement?


Share your ideas and offer your tradeables if you need to negotiate further. Money is important but how important it is, only you can decide. Generally speaking, money matters should be a lower priority than career issues. Employers think in terms of what value you offer to their business.


If you need further advice on how to negotiate your salary in an interview, please check out Sarah Berry’s Interview and Career Planning guides.


If you need advice on how to write your CV to reflect your salary and worth, consider investing in one of the CV packages.


Salary Negotiation


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BY: Sarah Berry

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