How to negotiate a great starting salary

Women are still struggling to be paid on an equal foot with men with many women even unprepared to negotiate salary from day one. looks at the issues and offers some tips on how to get off on the right salary foot.

Negotiate & do your research:
So you’ve scooped your dream job and been offered a starting salary. The temptation is just to make life easy and say ‘yes, yes, yes’ but take a moment to pause and don’t pile in with a straightforward acceptance.
Maureen Mccarty writing for The Washington Post highlighted some depressing findings which show that 20% of women say they never negotiate at all, even though they recognise negotiation is as appropriate and even necessary. Two and a half times more women than men also said they feel ‘a great deal of apprehension’ about negotiation.

Yet preparation and research can help ease the nerves. Once you’ve got the offer then find out how much you would be paid for a like job in a competitor’s company. There are a number of salary checkers available such as Look at the broadsheets and dedicated job sites for your profession these will all give you further indications of what salary you should expect for your level. You need to consider the location of the job as well, if you are working in the Capital you may expect to earn a little more.

Similarly if you have landed a flexible working job that may include some room for home or remote working then you should consider that this may come with a slightly reduced salary. You will be saving on commuting costs, however, and add up what the whole package means to you, if you take a slight knock on salary you may find it is evened out if it reduces your childcare bill. You need to also look at the position of the company, if they’re a FTSE 100 business then it is in a strong position to pay a leading wage, if it’s a start up then consider some of the other benefits such as any stock options or share of bonus at year end.

Prepare your pitch:

You’ve got the information you need and now you need to approach your new employer with your counter-offer. Remember to choose the right time and if appropriate set up a meeting to discuss this or book a telephone conference.

Don’t be afraid that by negotiating you are getting off on a bad foot. Men are eight times more likely than women to negotiate their starting salary and benefits so remind yourself that your employer has probably hired many employees that have turned down the first salary offered and that these employees have gone on to be successful with the company. In fact your employer may even be impressed that you have the confidence to know your own worth.

Adopt a pleasant manner and lay out your reasons for wanting a better salary. Highlight why you are the best candidate for the job, after all they selected you from many others so they already think you are great. Tell them about what you can bring to the business; it may be your contacts, your tailored experience or your ability to deliver sales, customer service or great management. Be proud.

Don’t threaten your new employer. Most people won’t respond well to a threat of: “If you don’t give me x then I’ll go straight to your competitor.” This will just make you look like a bad egg and someone that won’t fit in.

Make your new employer feel valued. You’re more likely to get somewhere if you pat them on the back. Tell them how much you’d love to work at the company, what it is about it that you particularly admire – perhaps they are very innovative or great at developing people or you admire the fact that they are so hungry for success. Tell them that you’d love to work for them and that you are sure you can reach a happy compromise on salary. Don’t be afraid to tell them whereabouts you’d like the salary to go. You need to be clear about what it is that you are looking for and what you can give them in return.

Confront a ‘no’:

You may be faced with a flat ‘no’. So you should be prepared for this from the outset. You need to understand why your new employer is unprepared to negotiate – is it because they are tight on numbers, is the company struggling or are they under budgetary pressures?

Perhaps you could consider, in this case, requesting that your salary be reviewed in six months should your new employer be happy with your work. If this is agreed you can ask that this is included as a clause in your new contract. Alternatively if there really looks like no more money in the pot then consider other non-financial benefits that might be appealing that you would value – such as flexible working, more holiday, subsidised gym membership, or training.

If you have been turned down because your new employer is unsure that you have attained a level in your work that justifies your asking salary then agree what steps you need to take to ensure that in six months time you have demonstrated what they are asking for.

Good luck!

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