Salary negotiation is an important aspect of
any job situation, and is often perceived as the trickiest part.
Most common doubts raised are " Is it safe for me to negotiate
a salary without jeopardising my chances of getting a job?",
as well as "When and how do I negotiate my salary?".
The situation in which a salary is negotiated could vary depending
on whether the individual is a candidate with a certain degree
of work experience, applying for a position in a company, or is
a candidate with no prior work experience, applying for an entry
level position in an organisation. Another situation could be
an employee looking for career advancement in his current organisation.
The details of each of these situations might be different, however
certain basic principles and rules regarding salary negotiation
remain the same.
In this article, we attempt to provide broad guidelines on how
to negotiate a salary when applying for a new job. This should
be useful in providing tips on salary negotiations for other situations
A salary should be negotiated if you perceive the offer
The first question to be answered is "Should a salary be
negotiated at all?". The answer to this is-Yes, if the offer
made is inadequate in your view. To arrive at that, it is important
that you, the candidate, applying for the job, do your homework
in terms of knowing the salary range for similar positions in
other organisations within the same industry, and across industries
but within the same functional area. For example, when applying
for the job of a brand manager in a food company, you need to
be aware of the salary range as a brand manager in marketing in
other organisations across industries i.e food, cosmetics, detergents
etc. That is find out the likely salary for similar positions
in your field. Most reputable corporations offer a standard salary
for a type of job. You, as a job applicant, need to find out what
that rate is.
Do not enter into a salary negotiation for an ego kick to see
how far you can go in raising your price with an organisation,
especially if the offer they make is within the salary range for
that particular position.
For first time recruits just starting out in their careers, it
is important to communicate that you are more interested in the
job where you can prove yourself and contribute to the
organisation, rather than in a specific salary. The organisation,
in any case, would probably have a certain number of jobs in definite
This is normally true when company representatives come to interview
on campuses of
Recruiters also may get put off if they perceive that the candidate
is too salary-focussed !
Discuss salary only after you have received the job offer
The next question that comes to mind regarding salary negotiations
is when to negotiate a salary. Should it be done during the interview
for example, when the interviewers ask the interviewee "
Would you like to ask us any questions?". Or should it be
left to a later date?
The answer here is that unless you know or have some indication
that you are going to receive the job offer, salary negotiations
are irrelevant. Salary negotiations, during the interview or at
any time before the interviewers have decided to select you, will
only create a negative impression.
There is a saying in sales that you should never discuss price
before you have established value. This applies to job situations
as well. Unless the prospective buyer (employer in this case)
is convinced that you provide a suitable match for their job profile/requirements,
any salary discussion is meaningless.
It is better to postpone discussion of the salary till as late
in the selection process as is possible. In the meantime try and
present the value you offer to the employer and understand the
requirements of the position so that you can arrive at a figure
or a range for an acceptable salary. This will allow you to negotiate
salary later on, meaningfully, once you receive the job offer.
Use the problem-solving approach in your negotiation
Once you have received the job offer take some time to think over
it. Use this time to prepare for the negotiation process.
List out the issues to be discussed or negotiated.
These could be for example, the structure of your salary package
and the amounts under each head, benefits such as health, housing,
leave, bonus, retirement benefits etc.
Set your priorities
Decide on your minimum requirements i.e. the conditions which
need to be met for you to accept the offer. Think about what you
are willing to trade off. You will need to do this to be able
to appear flexible in your negotiation otherwise you may scare
away the employer with too much aggression and rigidity. Remember
the employer could still withdraw the job offer, so be cautious.
List criteria to justify your stand To give you a high probability
of succeeding in your negotiation, you need to set criteria to
appear objective in your requests. It is better for the organisation
to realise that your concerns are based on real needs and comparable
industry standards instead of arbitrary demands for higher remuneration.
Be aware of your strengths
This could help you gain confidence during the process of negotiation.
If the organisation really needs you, highlighting your strengths
and achievements will put you in a better bargaining position
to get the employers to consider your requests seriously. Remember
that your request should be based on what you can do for the organisation
and what you are worth. This could also re-iterate to the employer
that your profile and theirs provide an appropriate match.
Follow your own style of negotiation
Appear objective and balanced. Do not get too aggressive because
you should not scare the employer away! Unless you have some alternative
firm offer, it is inadvisable to negotiate in an inflexible manner.
Try to be in a win-win situation
Use this problem-solving approach to arrive at a win-win situation
at the end of the salary negotiation process. Look for a solution
where you and the employer benefit, instead of a zero-sum situation
where you win/I lose or the other way around. Look for common
platforms even though the issues might appear conflicting. If
your expectations are reasonable it should ensure success in your
negotiations and leave all parties concerned feeling satisfied
about recruiting you.
Use body language to communicate enthusiasm for the job
On the day of the negotiation, show your pleasure at receiving
the job offer. Clarify aspects that you need to and highlight
your concerns/reservations. Yet, let your body language express
your enthusiasm and eagerness for the job and the organisation.
Confirm the final offer
Once the negotiation process is over, repeat the final offer as
you understood it. And express your intention to formally accept
as soon as you receive the final offer letter. If you are not
going to accept, be tactful and diplomatic on the reasons why.
Send a letter also regretting that things did not work out. In
a nutshell, leave a positive impression of yourself.
Once you have put these guidelines into practice, BEST OF LUCK!