How to negotiate your salary package

By: Steve Oldroyd

So there’s a job offer on the table and all you have to do is agree a package that will keep both you and your new employer happy. It’s not always the easiest thing to deal with, but with a bit of preparation you should be able to ensure that you don’t have to compromise too much.

One of the most important aspects of salary negotiation is that the employer should be the one to set a line in the sand. Employers can be quite clever here. They’ll often ask early in the interview process what your salary expectations are – if it’s below the salary that they foresee offering, they’re immediately onto a winner. (One way of side stepping this question is to say that you’ll need full knowledge of the responsibilities of the role first, or to simply say that it’s negotiable).

Research is key to a successful negotiation

So right from the start you should be doing your homework. There are various websites that provide guidance on salary levels, including salaraytrack.co.uk, payscale.com and glassdoor.com; they provide very useful tools that will help you establish a salary range based on job title, description, location and experience. It’s also good to network as much as possible, canvassing your contacts for any information they may be able to share. Naturally, we have a very good understanding of salary trends and will be able to offer advice as well. The key is to know what you’re worth without either pricing yourself out of the market or selling yourself short.

Any negotiation should be done in terms of the value you will add – those skills and experience that will make a difference to the company you are joining. You have to prove that you will be an asset, that you’re worth that extra £2,000 per year – now is very definitely the time to put all your sales techniques to work and sell yourself. If you’ve made a good impression during the interview stages, the employer won’t be keen to lose you at this stage. So be persuasive in your reasoning for a higher salary, but remember to focus on what you’re bringing to the table; don’t fall into the trap of asking for more money just because you think you can.

Make sure you weigh up the entire package

At the same time you should be prepared to compromise, so have in mind a figure that you believe will be a reasonable settlement. And think about the whole package – holiday entitlement, pension, private medical cover, company car, annual bonus or commission structure. All of these benefits have their value, so weigh up what you feel they may be worth. Depending on how you feel about such benefits, you may be able to swap one or more of them for a cash equivalent.

If the final offer is not quite what you hoped for, you could always negotiate a salary review within an agreed timescale. For instance, you might suggest that if you achieve X and Y within six months, your salary will be increased by Z per annum. If you go this route do make sure it is written in to your contract.

What to avoid at all costs...

One trick to avoid, don’t be tempted to fabricate other job offers in the hope that you’ll panic an employer into agreeing to your terms; no one responds well to this type of pressure. If you do have another job prospect, be candid about the salary on offer without identifying the company involved.

Finally, remember that salary is not the only factor that should seal the deal. It’s important to weigh up everything else you stand to gain from moving to a new job, be it a strategic move that will help strengthen your CV and progress your career, the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities, the training you’ll receive and new skills you’ll gain. And don’t forget that ensuring a decent work-life balance should also be considered.

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