Life Success Habits


Negotiating Your Salary and Benefits


Discussing your salary is not an easy thing to do. It can cause tension, concern and even panic in many people.

Knowing how to handle a salary negotiation will make a major difference in your career. Having the confidence to know you value and ask for what you really deserve is important. So it pays to prepare thoroughly for such a discussion.


What You Need to Know

Start your preparation by knowing the answers to the following:

  • Your market worth
  • The potential salary range of the job you are applying for
  • Where you see yourself in that range, considering your stage of career and experience
  • Common questions the interviewer is likely to ask


Have A Sense Of Self Worth

Having a sense of self-worth is a most important step in the preparation, and requires some work, both mentally and emotionally. This will pay dividends in terms of your own sense of confidence, and how you portray yourself to your 'opponent'.

Different approaches apply to different career stages:

A First Job

Don't presume the salary is set at a predetermined figure. ALL jobs have a salary range. Most hiring manager will attempt to engage you at a starting salary at the low end of that range, but there is always room to negotiate.

If you are just graduating from college, your university career development office will have lots of information on the starting salary ranges for people with various degrees and for different types of career.

If They Make The First Offer

You don't need to take the first offer an employer makes - in fact, most will not expect you to do so. Whilst there is always an element of give and take, setting salaries and benefits is a negotiation situation. It’s unusual for someone to accept the first offer from a company.


Assessing Your Market Worth

Each job applicant brings their own unique combination of skills, personality and energy to a job. Don't expect the interviewer to know what your unique qualities are. Be prepared to tell them - and make sure you have practiced saying so over and over before the interview, until it comes out in a relaxed confident manner.

Factors include:

  • Skills - skills are heightened with at least some level of experience
  • Availablity - your availability for start date, as well as flexibility in work hours
  • Flexibility - to take on new assignments, work locations, and other variables


Trial Job Interviews

A good way to assess your value in the market place is to go on at least two job interviews per year, even if you are not looking to change jobs.

This is really good way to ensure your career path is the right one - whether your skills and experience are valued outside the organization you currently work in. It also gives you a salary range based on offeres presented to you. And who knows - you may just land you next step in the career ladder without even trying.

Check Online Salary Ranges

A number of career websites have salary reports and calculators. These are pretty generic so not always reliable, but they do give you a guideline as to the value afforded different career paths.

Industry or Professional Association Publications

These also have annual reports on salaries in the field

Other People

Ask around - find other people in jobs you are already in or aspire to be in. Asking them for an indication of a range takes away any feeling of personal information divulgence.


Maintain Your CV

Keep your CV updated with your strengths, skills, and experiences you can offer any organization.

You just never know when an opportunity may present itself.

CV Styles change, so keep up to date on the latest style by checking recruitment sites


Career Stages

The stage of your career affects salary and benefits. The three basic stages of anyone’s career :

Early - you may be willing to take a lower salary in exchange for the opportunity to work for an exciting and growing company, the chance to learn valuable skills, or to work on a project that is deeply meaningful to you.

Middle - benefits such as healthcare and retirement become as important as the base salary. Also ask yourself about how much further you want to go in your career and how you want to balance work and family issues.

Late - salary may or may not be that important to you, depending on how well you have prepared for retirement. At this stage, focus more on enjoying your work (and workplace) or on leaving your own personal legacy.


Be Prepared

Prepare answers to questions about salary expectations - you’ll be asked, “What are your salary requirements?”

Resist asking what they are offering. You are better to indicate that you are willing to entertain a fair market offer, and not disclose actual numbers unless pushed to do so.

Consider the salary negotiation as an opportunity to demonstrate your professional negotiating skills. It’s your first chance to impress the company you may soon be working for.

Accepting the first offer may convey a lack of self-confidence and an inability to go after what you deserve.

If this is your first job, be aware that raises are based on a percentage of current salary; so if you start low, you limit your ability to increase your overall salary over time.


Three Things To Know

Three things to know before starting a negotiation:

  1. The average salary for roles in your grade
  2. The least amount [base salary] that you would accept and still feel adequately paid.
  3. Beyond base salary, be aware of the benefits that you require.

When asked about your salary expectations, request information about the existing salary ranges.

If you are pushed to suggest an acceptable range, make sure your lowest range amount is slightly above the minimum that you would accept, and the highest is reasonably more than you really expect them to offer. Make sure your high end is not too outrageous for the role or the market. You could also come across as arrogant and delusional.

Watch the interviewer’s body language closely to assess whether your stated expectations are taken as being reasonable. Realise that balking is a often used negotiation tactic - so use it yourself!!

Follow up your suggested range with three or four key attributes that back up your claim. You could also speak about the results you expect to help them achieve, and how the ROI will be very short term. Remember though, to keep the focus on your worth to the company, not your cost.


The Final Offer

If you receive a final offer during the interview, ask for a day or two to think about it, especially if you have concerns about it. This is not an unusual request - you are making a major life decision.

You also want to avoid appearing overly eager or desperate.

Be sure to state them when you will respond.


What To Avoid

Caving In When You Are Told “This Is the Final Offer,”

The term “final offer” usually refers to the base salary offer, but there may be room to negotiate for better benefits.

If you are sure the door to negotiation is closed, ask for a review within three to six months with the potential for a raise, based on your performance.

Having Unrealistically High Expectations

This is a fairly common mistake among young people who are fresh out of full-time education. Check out your package expectations with other people in the field before you go in to negotiate.

Unrealistic expectations about pay, can translate to potential to be unrealistic about other workplace matters, and no company wants to employ a person who is hard to work with.

Accepting the Highest Offer, When Not Sure About the Job

Jobs are more than a paycheck. Keep in mind that you’re not only negotiating a salary, you’re are making a decision about how you will be spending your life—perhaps for years to come.

Check for other benefits to the job that match your life and work values.

NEXT: Getting A Promotion Without Asking


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