If you are about to start discussing remuneration with a prospective employer, there are lots of salary negotiation tips that can help you navigate this tricky time. First of all, remember: do your homework. Spend time researching salaries of similar positions. Think realistically about your skills and experience, and gather as much relevant data as you can.

Getting started with salary negotiations

As the name suggests, salary negotiations are the period in which a prospective employer and employee come to a mutual decision about remuneration and benefits. If handled well, they should result in you receiving a salary that reflects not only the market, but also you as an individual and what you are bringing to the table.

It’s important to bear in mind that both employer and employee have something in common. It is not in the company’s best interests to underpay you, as it will hardly encourage loyalty! Remain calm and controlled, and never forget that at the end of the day, you both want fair payment.

Negotiations cover more than just money. You’re looking at the salary, yes, but also benefits, perks, bonuses, stock options, holiday allowance, medical packages and anything else that may be relevant to the position.

7 Tips for successful salary negotiation

  1. Choose your moment. Do not go into an interview situation all guns blazing. Wait until after the employer has made you an offer before starting to discuss remuneration.
  2. Let the employer make the first offer. Don’t give them a number first – it may undermine further negotiations. Instead, if the employer asks you about your salary requirements, say you are open to negotiation or, alternatively, ask for a breakdown of the responsibilities of the role before you get into the matter of salary (For more information, here are some tips about the best ways to handle interview questions about pay).
  3. Prepare your data. You’ve already done your research – so use it. If asked to provide a number, give a range of salaries that you have prepared based on your research. Rather than focusing on your personal financial needs, talk about the facts that you have uncovered about similar positions in the market.
  4. Don’t rush. If the company makes you an offer, you are under no obligation to decide immediately. Sometimes, just saying, “I need some time to consider that” can result in the offer being increased.
  5. Risk saying no. If you’re not completely sold on the position, rejecting an offer can work in your favour. Speaking from experience, I once turned down an offer as I wasn’t convinced I wanted the job. This led to three further phone calls, with the compensation package being increased each time.
  6. But be careful! Never decline a job that you really need or want. If you really care about the position, then don’t try to call the employer’s bluff – they might take you at your word when you reject their offer.
  7. Consider benefits. Even if the salary is not open to negotiation, other benefits and perks might be, and you can lead the discussion in this direction.

Salary calculators

Negotiations aren’t theoretical – if you accept a job, then the salary will have a huge impact on your life. Before making a decision, consult these free salary and paycheck calculators, which will help you see how much you’ll be bringing home from month to month.

How to negotiate a raise

  1. Just like negotiating an initial salary, you need to be prepared. Do some research inside and outside the company. Prepare documentation about your own performance. If internal appraisals are favourable, then you’ll have an easier time convincing the company that you’re worth more.
  2. Have a range in mind. Work out exactly what you want before entering the meeting, and don’t be afraid to justify it. Remember, though, that companies have different policies regarding raises. Sometimes they will only be offered at certain times of year.
  3. Prepare for alternative suggestions. Some companies may offer other perks instead of a raise – extra holiday allowance, for example. Would you be happy with that?
  4. Make a formal request for a salary discussion meeting with your supervisor. Do not hurry this. Bring all your prepared documentation, and get ready to negotiate calmly. Be prepared to wait – your supervisor may not have the authority to approve a request without discussing it with HR.

Above all, don’t be disappointed if it falls through. The company may not be in a financial situation to approve your request at the moment. But in following these salary negotiation tips and trying your best, you’ll have at least demonstrated your skills, which may help in the future. What’s more, if you really love your job, you may be willing to settle for a slightly lower salary. Never underestimate the importance of job satisfaction!