Salary negotiation: 5 killer tips

Salary negotiation
(Image credit: Photo by Fabian Blank on Unsplash)

Salary negotiation can be a minefield. Whether you're trying to persuade your boss to give you a pay rise or fleshing out the details of a potential job offer, asking for more money is never easy. Unless you're very lucky, chances are you're going to have to do a little negotiation at some point in your career. So how do you go about it the right way?

Read on for some top salary negotiation tips from people who know what they're talking about. 

01. Do your homework first

It's absolutely vital to do your homework on pay beforehand – forewarned really is forearmed, so gather with all the facts you can find. Before even deciding whether to embark on a salary negotiation or not, do some background research by reviewing salary guides or even speaking to recruiters. 

Information about the staffing situation at the company you're applying to – for instance if it's growing quickly or has recently reduced its headcount – can also impact your bargaining power. Arm yourself with the facts before you enter the negotiation.

02. Don't reveal your current salary

When interviewing for a job in a new company, you'll often be asked what you're making at the moment, and what you're looking for in the new role. Don't be caught out here: this is the first part of a salary negotiation process, and you need to treat is as such. Try not to limit your options by declaring a number too early on in the process – you might regret it later on, for example when you know more about the role.

Equally, be aware that playing games in order to try and manipulate your prospective employer is a risky business. While you might evade certain questions, outright lying about your current salary or other job offers on the table can easily backfire.

03. Avoid early ultimatums

When it comes to salary negotiation, it's smart to keep your options open. Whether you're negotiating with your current employer or a potential new one, don't issue ultimatums too early on in the process. Taking an aggressive stance early on is off-putting, and start your working relationship off on the wrong foot. At this point you're trying to convince your potential boss or your worth.

04. Don't apologise

While asking for more money can feel uncomfortable, especially if the salary negotiation is with someone you are currently working with, but try and suppress the urge to apologise. 

04. The time is now

As soon as you start to feel undervalued is the time to address the situation. People tend to wait far too long to raise the issue, says Be Kaler of recruiters Futureheads, and that doesn't make the best attitude to enter a salary negotiation. "Often, by the time people ask for more money they're quite disgruntled about what they're currently on," he says. "Try to have the conversation before you get to that stage."

05. 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."

06. Try again later

Be aware that if your initial request for a pay rise is rejected, that's not the only option. If you can't negotiate more money right now, try asking for a delayed or conditional pay bump to be written into your contract. That gives you a chance to prove your value to your employer. 

Kaler 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."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts, the world's leading design magazine. Subscribe here.

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