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How to avoid low-balling your value – and get the best deal during salary negotiations

The Communicator


Research reveals that just over half (55pc) of candidates brave the waters to negotiate their packages. Photo: Stock/Depositphotos

Research reveals that just over half (55pc) of candidates brave the waters to negotiate their packages. Photo: Stock/Depositphotos

Research reveals that just over half (55pc) of candidates brave the waters to negotiate their packages. Photo: Stock/Depositphotos

You did it. After rounds of interviews and follow-up meetings, you have finally been offered the job.

Congratulations. Now that all your research, role-play sessions and diligent preparation work is over, it’s time to settle into the role.

Wait a minute. What about your salary and benefits package? Have you negotiated that? No? Then there is still work to be done.

In today’s hybrid, employee-centric marketplace, employers expect candidates to discuss their salaries and benefits.

1. Introduce negotiations when you’re offered the job

If you feel uncomfortable reading this first tip, you’re not alone.

Research shows 70pc of employers expect to engage in negotiations with their would-be employees, but the same research revealed that just over half (55pc) of the candidates brave the waters to negotiate their packages.

Those that do negotiate their salaries, are demonstrating that they are confident and comfortable discussing their value and worth.

This kind of communication is likely what helped you land the job in the first place, so keep building on this.

Consider, too, the other side of the coin. What happens if you simply accept, without discussion, whatever salary or benefits are set before you?

You may be considered a follower rather than a leader. Even worse, depending on what you receive, you may be accepting a salary far below the market or your needs.

Imagine, for instance, that you accept a wage 10pc beneath your desired salary. If you’re later provided an average cost-of-living increase of 4pc annually, it will take you more than two years to attain your original desired starting point.

For those reasons and more, the positives of negotiating outweigh the negatives. So, let’s explore how to be as successful as possible during this process.

2. Understand your value

The Covid-19 pandemic has clearly impacted the workforce. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) shows that unemployment remains at record-setting levels.

This means you are valuable as an employer investment. You have more leverage than you may realise.

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Don’t forget to factor in your years of experience, level of education, leadership and other related skills as part of that leverage. While the pandemic is still affecting the world’s economy, it doesn’t mean you need to steer clear of discussing your value in the ecosystem of your new company.

The events that shaped our lives during the pandemic and now beyond have promoted both employers and employees to examine their career opportunities, culture, values and lives.

What is important to you?

Employers are looking for people who can positively influence their teams. That is a value in and of itself. Seek to define that.

3. Do your research

While you’re putting a value on your own worth, conduct some research on the value of your potential new employer. Can you determine how badly they were affected during lockdown?

Many companies lost revenue. If so, how are they doing today? Other companies continued to chart financial growth during the pandemic.

Try to conduct your research from as many sources as possible.

Also consider asking some of these questions as part of your interview.

This will set you up nicely for your package negotiation.

4. Prepare and practise your negotiation conversation

I work with my clients to understand that even their most seemingly informal, off-hand conversations become a part of their brand.

Therefore, please understand that if you ultimately accept your new offer, your negotiation conversation will become a part of your employer’s perception about you.

They are positive or negative. Knowing this, seek to make this conversation a positive one. Start off with gratitude. Once you’ve been offered the job, thank your manager, HR professional and whoever else was part of the process.

If you are asked what your anticipated salary would be, don’t limit yourself to a single number.

State a range with a spread of about €10,000. Make sure your bottom range number is something you can live realistically live with.

5. Make suggestions beyond money

As companies move into the uncharted waters of hybrid working and other new ‘workforce of the future’ models, here is your opportunity to suggest a range of benefits and ideas beyond the salary range you have already proposed.

Consider discussing a possible signing bonus to compensate for accepting a lower salary than what you suggested. Can you nail down a work-from-home schedule? Holidays? Are there any other perks that your employer can come up with?

This is not a competition that you have to win in one. Rather, I encourage you to enter in this conversation as a way to establish yourself as an engaged and active employee who is a confident and courageous leader – not only for your teams, but also for yourself. If you keep your composure, you will be planting positive conversation and leadership seeds that will grow over time – whether or not you score the salary and benefits package of your wildest dreams.

Write to Gina in care of SundayBusiness@independent.ie

With corporate clients in five continents, Gina London is a premier communications strategy, structure and delivery expert. She is also a media analyst, author, speaker and former CNN anchor. @TheGinaLondon

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