The interview session is going on well and you can bet the last coin in your bank account that you have this job in the bag. Then the question of salary expectation hits you and your steady train of well-thought-out answers comes to a halt! You try to remember the calculations you made while seated at the reception, nothing comes to mind so you blurt out, “I am ready to go with your existing pay scale.” The panel members cross their arms, exchange glances and set your pay at a value you aren’t happy with for months to come. Many of us have no experience with salary negotiation and would struggle to find a favourable answer; one that will not sound ridiculously high to the panel and at the same time, will not undervalue your skills and experience.
So how do you avoid putting yourself in a regrettable situation? The following pointers might come in handy.
Understand That You Must Negotiate
This is not up for negotiation – pun intended. Salary negotiation is a must for your career. Understand that it is a business transaction where you are selling your experience and skills for the best price. The panel on the other side wants the best candidate for the most affordable price. They will always start the discussion at the lowest because they expect you to negotiate your way up. Do not take it personally when the panel places what you consider beneath your expectation on the table. They too have a budget and they want to stay within these limits as much as possible.
Understand Your Value
Self-awareness is vital. Before the salary negotiation, you need to have a full understanding of your skills, capabilities, unique selling points, strengths and weaknesses. Conduct an honest SWOT analysis. For instance, if your qualifications match the requirements and you have the required experience it gives you more grounds for negotiation. If you lack experience, your unique selling point and individual strengths come in handy to assist you negotiate for your ideal salary.
As an addition, demonstrate that you can contribute to the growth of the company and hence, your salary will be a worthy expenditure to the company. At the end of the day, the employer wants to hire someone who can contribute to the company’s bottom line and not just someone who will keep things as they are.
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By staying neutral, you carefully weigh your experience and the value you bring on board against a fair amount that is in accordance with market rates. Objectivity will help you convince the interviewer that the amount you are asking for is reasonable and workable.
For example, if you quote an amount that is slightly higher than average, ensure that you back it up by demonstrating that you have the right experience and that your value will be of great help to the company.
Understand Your Potential Employer and the Industry
You must conduct research about the position you will be interviewing for. Ask your professional connections the estimated value of the position in question. Look through job websites and concentrate on adverts that openly give a range of expected salary. With such information coupled with your experience and strengths, you can then formulate your ideal least acceptable value. Also, note that a company’s pay scale will depend on its size, market share, annual revenue, among other factors. You most certainly don’t expect an SME to match a Big 5’s pay scale for a similar position.
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What Is Your Ideal Package?
Money is an important factor to consider when considering a job offer, but it is not the only factor. There are times where the potential employer will present a fixed offer. Do not let that put you down. Probe about additional benefits, working hours, perks and bonuses, transport and meals, and do your research about the work environment. You might find that what you consider to be missing in the salary area is abundant with other benefits. Decide what is important to you and let it help you make your decision. You might not have the power of negotiation about what goes to your bank account, but you definitely have the power to negotiate how you spend your time at work, your perks and bonuses, and your personal time. Learn to negotiate for the complete ideal package.
Settle On A Range As Opposed To A Fixed Figure
When negotiating for a salary, suggest a range but make sure that your ideal salary falls within this. It is important to have a reasonable range that the employer can work with. This way, you are likely to settle on an amount that is slightly above or below your ideal amount. It also benefits the employer because you have provided room for flexibility. The range should also be within market rates to ensure that you do not undervalue or overvalue yourself. Find accurate salary ranges based on research for different roles and industries here.
Understand The Modalities
First, you must understand that the salary talk should be last. Your priority should be marketing your skills, experience and unique selling points. By the time the salary talk comes, your interviewers should have a clear picture of how lucky they will be to have you on their team.
You must fully understand the job at hand and your specific involvement. Write down the roles listed in the job advert for reference. During the entire interview listen to what the interviewers are saying and ask questions where necessary. Know who you will be reporting to as it will help you gauge the importance of the role in the company hierarchy. Ask about the company’s organogram. Such facts will help you in your negotiation.
Be Honest About Your Expectations
Salary negotiation is a tricky process that involves bringing both sides to a reasonable agreement. However, do not undervalue yourself just so that you can meet the employer’s expectations. It is best if you settle on a fair amount that reflects on your value and that can comfortably accommodate your lifestyle as opposed to an amount that will please the employer but hurt you. This is a negotiation so do not limit yourself. Personal honesty is also what will help you to demonstrate to the employer that you will be a valuable addition to the team. Do you know your current market value? This tool gives you insights backed with research.
Show Interest In The Position
In some cases, the employer cannot meet your salary expectation. As such, it is important to demonstrate that you are not just about the money. Show interest in what the job entails and its future prospect. If you demonstrate that you are very much interested in the job and its growth, the employer is much more likely to cave in and give you what you ask for or something close to what you want.
It is a salary negotiation so make it so. Be flexible with what you want. Do not stick to your guns because that will kill your chances of being offered the job if the employer cannot afford what you are asking for. If you are flexible about what you can take home, you will have the ability to negotiate for other benefits as well.
Always take time to think. Even when an offer is made, pause and reflect on it. Jumping too quickly into a deal makes you look desperate and no one wants to hire a desperate employee. Any panel will respect your request for time to think about the offer. DO NOT mention that you need to consult your spouse or parent (even if you have to). You should always come across as a level-headed, intelligent adult, with the ability to make their own decisions.
When all is said and done, you will get what you negotiate for. You know what you deserve, negotiate your way to it.