Whether you are in negotiations for a new job, or it’s that time of year when you’re getting ready for a salary review, you need to be prepared. Maybe you’ve already bunkered down and watched hours over salary negotiation videos on YouTube or started reading up on the topic (if you haven’t come across Ramit Sethi yet, I urge you to go and check him out. He is a genius!)
But sometimes, negotiating your salary can feel overwhelming. If that’s how you’re feeling, it’s time to take a step back and stop thinking about money. “Wait, what? This is an article about salary negotiation!” I hear you saying. Uh, yeah. The thing about salary negotiation is money is just one tiny part of a bigger picture. Salary negotiation doesn’t need to be about squeezing every last possible dollar from an employer, through over-thought strategies or trickery. Nor does it need to be difficult or stressful. That’s why I present to you, these tips:
Establish what you want, as well as what you need
I know you’ve heard it before — ‘money isn’t everything.’ But, does this mean that you shouldn’t get paid what you’re worth? Hell, no! However, it does mean you don’t necessarily have to push hard to get a huge salary, especially if you are open to receiving other benefits, like workplace flexibility, extra leave, allowances, professional development or an exciting role that you can really sink your teeth into.
The trick is to first work out exactly how much you need to pay all your bills and live a comfortable lifestyle. Make sure you sit down and actually work out the figures, because the number that first pops into your head probably isn’t accurate! From here, you know exactly how much wiggle room you have and you can start to think about how much you want to get paid.
Consider the benefits — your package is not just salary
I’ve already alluded to it, but your remuneration package is not just made up of cold, hard cash. There are loads of other elements to think about and I’ve already mentioned some of them. Here’s a more comprehensive, but not-all-inclusive list:
- Personal and annual leave
- Car, car allowance or petrol card
- Mobile phone and laptop
- Flexible working hours
- Ability to work from home
- Formal education and/or training
- Career advancement
- Team (including manager)
- Rostered days off
- Volunteering days
- Free parking
- Meals or meal allowance
- Work/life balance
- Type of work
- Company culture
- Community contribution
- Bonuses or commissions
- Corner office
- Leadership role
- Study leave or allowances
- Sport or recreation clubs
- Professional associations
Are any of these things important to you? If so, it’s important for you to take these into consideration when you are negotiating. For example, you might be willing to pass up a few dollars if it means you can work from home a couple of days per week, or you get to use the company car on weekends.
Justify your worth — be prepared to back yourself (and do your research!)
So, you’ve thought about how much you need, how much you want and what other benefits are part of your ideal package. Now it’s time to justify why you are worth it. Too often, I see people fall into the trap of leading with why they want or need a certain figure, rather than why they deserve to be paid top dollar. The easiest way to avoid these mistakes? Remove the words ‘want’ and ‘need’ from your vocabulary while you are negotiating.
If you aren’t sure how much you are worth in the open market, make sure you do your research. Lots of recruitment companies regularly publish salary guides, but you can also talk to friends and colleagues who are in your industry. This information will help you to back up your case when you are providing your justification.
Don’t play games — your negotiation style says a lot about the way you work
Think negotiation is a game? Well, I guess in some ways, you’re right. But when you are negotiating your salary for a new role, or asking for a pay increase from your current employer, you should avoid game-playing as much as possible. You might feel smart if you pull the wool over someone’s eyes and get a few extra bucks, but in the long run, you could be labelled untrustworthy, a trouble-maker, or overly dramatic. Here are a few games that I have seen fail miserably:
- Lying about how much you are on, or overstating your experience or achievements. Lying is not on. It’s unethical and you will be caught out. And a few extra bucks now isn’t worth the black mark on your reputation.
- Making irresponsible claims. “I’ve been doing two jobs since Sally left”, is my favourite. News flash. Unless you’ve been working 80 hours a week, you aren’t doing two jobs and no, you don’t deserve two salaries. You’re doing parts of two jobs and whilst that might warrant an increase, let’s focus on stating the facts.
- Refusing to put a number on the table. Of course, in negotiation, you always want the other guy to say his number first. But sometimes, this isn’t practical. If an employer asks you how much you want and you blatantly refuse to give them a number, you look like a jerk, not an awesome negotiator.
- Pushing the negotiation too far. If an employer has given you an offer and you’ve already tried to bump them up once and they have declined, let it go. If you keep pushing, again, you’re heading into jerk territory. So either take the offer, or don’t. But don’t burn bridges in the process.
Avoid quibbling over pennies or you’ll miss an opportunity
So, they just won’t budge on that extra five thousand dollars? Think about whether it will really make a difference. Five thousand a year is less than a hundred dollars a week. After tax, let’s say it’s 70. Is $70 a week worth a missed opportunity? Is it worth you missing out on what could be your dream role?
This is where you need to go back to that original figure of what you actually need to survive, then decide what is more important. I won’t judge you if you decide to go for the money, I just ask if the $70 is what it’s going to take for you to feel fulfilled.
Be prepared to walk away
As I’ve mentioned, sometimes you just have to be prepared to walk away. If the money (and other benefits) aren’t coming up to scratch, then do yourself a favour and move onto the next thing. They say you shouldn’t settle when looking for a partner and the same goes for your career. Just remember though, that you don’t want to burn bridges, so walk away graciously and with class — save the snide remarks for Friday afternoon drinks with your girlfriends!
So, there you have it. Consider yourself ready for your next salary negotiation. Go get it, girl!