Negotiating a salary from a position of strength

Philippa Flowerday, Career Transition Partner

Recently I have been coaching my eldest to secure a role in the highly competitive tech world. After a grueling assessment process, he found himself in the enviable position of deciding between three companies who all wanted to play coy about what they would pay for his skills. Of course, these offers did not come all at the same time exactly so careful negotiation was required. There are some good lessons from this experience that anyone negotiating a salary can apply.

Salary negotiations tend to make people a little nervous. A couple of observations from a career perspective before we talk $$. Firstly, money is not everything. Don’t cloud your judgment and take a role just because the money seems so great. Hopefully, you have created a list of the criteria you seek in your next role; more money should not be the only thing on it. A frequent career regret we hear is “I shouldn’t have taken the role but the money was so good…”. Secondly, the most engaged employees find purpose in their work. You need to interview an organisation as much as they interview you. And finally, you need to ask yourself how this role will help your career in the longer term. What will you learn and develop as a result?

Do your research

Before you enter into discussions about salary expectations you need to do your research so that you can present the evidence for what you are worth. These days there are multiple sources to draw from so there really is no excuse for not knowing.

Recruiters love ‘em or hate ‘em, this is where recruiters can really help you. Contact a couple of recruiters that you know and/or who specialise in recruiting for your type of skills to give an independent opinion of what your salary expectations should be.

Employer review sites such as Glassdoor (touted to be the most reliable) are good sources of salary ranges by role and location

Job sites Seek and the like are good sources of general information as they will likely have a number of similar roles advertised with a broad indication of the salary range they sit within.

Networks Talk to other professionals in the field and ask for their input in determining your worth and that of the role you are interested in.

Understanding remuneration speak

Make sure you are on the same page when talking packages. It might seem obvious but sometimes key information gets ‘lost in translation’ between the hiring manager, HR, the recruiter and you. When a figure is quoted make sure you understand whether this is base salary only, total fixed remuneration (typically base salary and super) or total package (including at-risk components and additional benefits such as a medical cover).  It also helps to understand salary bands.

Every role has a range, the mid-point of which relates to being fully competent in the role. Typically employers prefer to start someone off below the mid-point to allow room for development if the role is a step up in some way. If the person is highly experienced in this type of role then they can expect to pay above the mid-point. When a figure is quoted to you, show your confidence and knowledge in asking where this sits relative to the mid-point.

How to handle questions about your salary expectations

While you don’t want to lead a job application process with talking about the salary you also don’t want to waste your time or that of the potential employer so you do need to get a feel for expectations. Having said that, you want to be paid what you are worth in the role you are applying for, which is not necessarily what are you being currently or have recently been paid. 

There are a couple of ways of redirecting the conversation and they involve responding to a question with your own question:

-Asking what the salary range is for the role and then indicating whether you are in the same ballpark

-Asking for more information on the role itself before you discuss remuneration as it is somewhat different from your last or current role and (most importantly) so that you can determine what the salary should be based on the market rate

-Indicate that you are looking for an improvement on your previous package (most people are) and then again, ask the recruiter what the range is for this role

What are your negotiables?

Cash in hand is obviously very important and you need to be clear on what your baseline is for salary alone. However, you should be prepared to negotiate on other aspects of the total remuneration package. These may make a substantial difference not only to the value of the total package but to your enjoyment of working in the role and for this organisation.  Good luck!

Contact us to explore how we can support you and your organisation to transition employees with respect and dignity.