How to negotiate your salary after receiving a job offer

You’ve aced the application process and interview; now it’s time to negotiate your salary. Negotiating is a tricky skill that must be approached with confidence, highlighting your worth without appearing to be demanding or unrealistic. 

Although geared toward people changing jobs, it is worth noting that the same tactics can be just as effective when discussing a pay rise with your current employer.

How much are you worth in the current market?

Naturally, we all want to earn the highest salary possible, but it is important to understand how you measure up against people with similar skills and experience levels before entering a negotiation. Use valid data to strengthen your case; you can do this by checking the salary comparison tool. Scan similar jobs online and talk to your recruitment consultant. If you have friends or close acquaintances in similar roles, discuss it with them too. The more real-world information at your disposal, the stronger your negotiating platform will be.

Consider external factors affecting your salary negotiation

Your value to the business is not the only factor at play. Few, if any companies have limitless financial resources on which to draw. It is important to understand potential limitations before entering negotiations.

Look into the company’s financial performance and recent staff movements. As a specialist in your field, you should already have a solid understanding of industry conditions, but take the time to research what other experts think about the immediate and longer-term future of the market. This will help you to anticipate potential objections when discussing your salary.

What are your financial needs?

Market conditions and pay levels of people in similar positions are a useful guide to the salary you should be seeking, but it is important not to overlook your personal financial needs. For instance, would you need to move to a new city to take up the job? If so, how does the cost of living compare? Would you be able to get by on your current salary, or would you need to earn considerably more?

After considering your financial needs, come up with a salary range to bring to the negotiating table. Decide on three figures:

  • How much you need to live on (this will presumably be no lower than your current salary)
  • How much you would need to feel satisfied (i.e. the minimum you would accept)
  • How much you would need to feel delighted (i.e. your ultimate goal)

The last two figures comprise the salary range for which you should aim. You should always start at the higher end to allow room for negotiation.

Are non-financial benefits an option?

It is far easier to reach a satisfactory outcome if you are prepared to keep an open mind. During the course of your negotiation, it may become clear that there is limited flexibility on pay. Come prepared with alternatives that are not directly related to salary, such as:

  • Support for education and training: this could involve paying for a certification, or simply guaranteeing you the time out of the office to complete a training programme
  • Flexible working hours
  • More annual leave, plus the option to purchase additional days off
  • Free gym membership
  • A company car or mobile phone
  • Childcare benefits

Additionally, the job might offer a clear promotion path, or the opportunity to review pay in three to six months. Make sure you consider these alternatives as part of your salary negotiation.

How to conduct yourself in a salary negotiation

Money can be an emotive topic, especially when discussed in direct relation to your overall value as an employee, but it is vital that you keep a cool head. Aim to be hard but fair; having the confidence to negotiate well for yourself, shows the employer that you could bring these skills to the role, strengthening their belief that you would be a valuable addition to the team.

At the same time, always be respectful toward your potential new employer. Although you should go into the negotiation firm and confident, don’t be overconfident. This could give the wrong impression

Find more information on pay in our Salary Centre. For more career tips, browse all of our advice here or get in touch with one of our expert consultants to discuss your career options.