Tips For A Successful Salary Negotiation

Tips For A Successful Salary Negotiation

Salary negotiation can be tricky and if not handled correctly, can be disastrous. The window for negotiating a salary exists from the time a candidate is offered the job, until the acceptance of the role. The results of this salary negotiation can leave a candidate feeling wanted or undervalued, and can leave an employer excited to have them on board, or feeling as if they’ve lost out.

How much flexibility do you have to negotiate salary and other conditions of employment with prospective employers? The answer ranges from not much to a lot. One key factor is what has been discussed during the recruitment process. Communication is key. It should not be a shock to either party when an offer is made. It might not be an exact match but should be good starting point to commence negotiations.

When you negotiate your role, should you get to that place, bare in mind the employer’s salary negotiation leeway may depend on a number of factors. Things such as seniority of the position, the scarcity of skilled candidates, comparative salaries with existing employees, geographical area and economic climate largely impact what they can afford to pay.

Salary Negotiation Tips

Negotiations between employer and candidate will usually involve employers asking candidates for an expected salary on their job application. This will give them some idea of what your ball park expectation is. Be prepared for the conversation – if you’re not sure of the market rate, you can do a bit of research to confirm your expectation is in line with that rate.

Know what your salary negotiation limits are. Base your limits on the market salary paid to employees in similar positions, the economic climate and job search market. Employers will have a budget in mind also and may not be prepared to deviate wildly from this.

Salary negotiation is not about winning – unless both parties win. If either party feels they are not getting a good deal, you both lose.

Be midful of the repercussions of  playing hardball to force the employer to pay more than they want. Employers paying salaries higher than they think is reasonable can be bad for them and bad for the candidate. The new employee’s work is scrutinised, employer expectations may become unreasonable, and fellow employees may resent the new hire. In a win-win salary negotiation, both employer and employee leave the salary negotiation feeling ready to get started on a long term, successful relationship.

If there is  a bonus structure in place, establish this with the employer and get a dollar value alongside this. The word bonus is just that, unless you can put a value to it. Discuss what the last staff member may have earned in addition to their salary in terms of bonus.

Recognise that, if your salary is not negotiable, and even if it is, you may want to negotiate with the employer in other areas outside base salary. Including other benefits as part of the package can be a cost effective way of offsetting a wage such as paying on the performance of the business, or paying allowances.

If the initial offer is not negotiable, or barely negotiable, try to get an indication when you are made the offer. You may have only been subject to certain styles of negotiating in the past and think that there is lots of room to negotiate when that’s not the case.

There are no hard and fast rules about what is right or wrong and circumstances vary from each opportunity to the next. Communication is key!


Pam McKean Pam McKean is the founder and director of two successful recruitment agencies - JSS Recruiting, servicing multiple industries specialising in Reception and Business Support; Medical Administration; and Marketing and PR – and AB Dental Employment Agency, which services 2000+ businesses and is the leading agency for the dental industry in Australia.


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