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How to negotiate the best salary

Times are still tight, with most jobs swamped with eager applicants.

However, if you've landed a new job, from application through to interview(s) then final selection, this means that your new employer sees significant value in you - so don't shoot yourself in the foot when it comes to negotiating your salary. 

Added on 03.04.2014

Handle this right, and you will not only improve your finances in the present, but your long-term prospects.

Planning for the future

Statistically, your salary will peak in your forties if you are a man and by the time you are forty if you are a woman - scroll down to 'earnings by age group' here. Even you manage to buck this trend, taking it into account in your long-term financial planning is shrewd.

So, rather than going for a slow steady increase in salary as you progress through your career, try instead to unleash big jumps in earnings potential that you can then realise when you negotiate.

The importance of your job title

Salaries never make it onto CVs; job titles and achievements do. Your first secret weapon for success in the present and in the future is negotiating the best job title you can, one that shows increased responsibility, increased seniority and increased impact - someone who is moving up the ladder and becoming more and more of an asset to any company lucky enough to retain them.

Learn how to write a killer CV

This is worth taking professional help to do; learn the rules of selling yourself properly on paper, and stick to them. Any good recruitment consultant will also be able to give you some tips in this area, particular to your area of expertise.

Do you need to make a move sideways first?

It's a cold hard fact, but nothing usually influences earnings potential like profit generation. Your role might be essential, but if you're not perceived to be making or saving the business large sums of money then you will very likely not receive as much money as those that are. Making a move that will support a higher salary ceiling is worth taking a pay cut to do.

Seek mentoring when you have the opportunity

Talking to those already walking the walk can provide valuable insight; and again, a good specialist recruitment consultant will know what salaries are being offered.

Negotiating for today

First, do your research

This is a pretty straightforward task these days. Here's some places to start looking:

One tip here is to think about different job titles that your role might have, because some real differences in salary can hang simply on the way the job is described. Will you be utilising skills that are required in other roles (perhaps saving the company time spent on consultancy) or more senior roles? Then this is something to be aware of and save for the negotiation (see below).

Next, understand the position of the person you'll be negotiating with

The best negotiators make everyone feel happy with the solution presented. If you've done proper research on the company then you should have gained useful information from that, as well as what you've been told throughout the selection and interview process about where you'll be placed following your appointment. Use this to your advantage where you can to inform the realistic possibility of creating the job title you want, or changing the level of the position on paper.

The trick is to present what you want as the solution to a problem, with your new job description and level of responsibility making the company feel better about the skill-set they have at their disposal.

Finally, know - and practice - some tried and tested negotiation techniques

  1. Aim high. You should know what the role is worth - don't ask for the entry level salary. The person you're negotiating with will invariably offer you something below whatever you say, so ask for more than you are prepared to settle for.
  2. Whenever you mention a price, let them respond - properly. This can be awkward; silence in a conversation usually is. However, if you speak to fill the silence, you'll almost certainly end up saying something that will weaken your position. If what they say is something that merely asks you to repeat what you've already said, just affirm that: simply say 'yes' or 'that's correct'.
  3. Keep it light and friendly, and keep it centred on how this helps them.

Finally, consider this quote, and proceed accordingly. "Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want." Joseph Wood Krutch

Good luck in getting the salary that you deserve!