5 killer ways to nail that salary negotiation

Expert recruiters and negotiators share their top tips for improving your current salary.

Whether you're trying to persuade your boss to give you a pay rise or fleshing out the details of a potential job offer, it's absolutely vital to do your homework beforehand – forewarned really is forearmed.

"The most important thing to do before deciding whether to negotiate is to conduct background research," says Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group.

"Review salary guides and speak to recruiters," adds Domeyer. "Try to find out if the company is growing or has recently reduced its staff, as these events can help to inform your bargaining power."

Once you've armed yourself with the facts, use these five top tips to help negotiate a new salary.

And for for more pro advice on how to earn more as a designer, pick up a copy of Computer Arts issue 244 - a money special issue, on sale now.

01. Quit playing games


Apply for better-paying jobs and be honest about your situation. Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, says it's vital to avoid playing games.

"Tactics such as misleading a prospective employer about your current salary or other job offers in an effort to obtain higher pay almost always backfire," she says.

02. Don't draw lines


Always keep your options open when negotiating a contract. Whether you're negotiating with your current employer or a potential new one, Domeyer says it's a mistake to give ultimatums too early on in the contractual process.

"Look for common ground and avoid an adversarial stance. You want to start off on the right foot."

03. The time is now


Start looking around ahead of time rather than waiting until you're thoroughly fed up. "Often, by the time people ask for more money they're quite disgruntled about what they're currently on," says Be Kaler of Futureheads. "Try to have the conversation before you get to that stage."

04. Know your bottom line


"Always have a Below This I Walk number in mind when going into a meeting,"
says recruitment consultant Ted Leonhardt.

"If you don't go in with one, in a weak moment you can find yourself agreeing to something you later regret. Our brains flick between emotional and rational responses – the rational mind is the slowest part."

05. If not now, try later


Be aware that pay rises don't have to come instantly. If you can't negotiate more money now, try asking for a delayed or conditional pay bump to be written into your contract.

Be Kaler of Futureheads suggests asking employers to consider writing a pay rise into your contract. "They might say: okay, we can pay that when you've delivered X, Y or Z."

Words: Anne Wollenberg
Illustration: Mystery Meat

This full version of this feature, 'How to get paid what you deserve', first appeared inside Computer Arts issue 244, a money special, on sale now. Save up to 54 per cent on a subscription to the world's best-selling design magazine here.

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