Cracking the salary negotiation code

Negotiating your salary can be a challenging task that may leave you feeling anxious and unsure about how to proceed. The thought of having to ask for what you believe you are worth can be nerve-wracking. You’ll often feel backed into a corner, ready to cave rather than argue for the compensation you deserve.

However, with the right approach you can handle salary negotiations with confidence and potentially earn significantly more than you would otherwise. Whether you’re negotiating a new job offer or seeking a raise in your current position, there are several strategies that you can use to navigate the process successfully.

Negotiating for a new position

Negotiating a competitive salary from the outset is crucial, to avoid having to play catch-up later. Companies tend to have more flexibility in their hiring budgets than in their budgets for salary increases, especially for positions that are difficult to fill. Negotiating the right salary for your new role can increase your potential earnings significantly.

To determine the appropriate salary range for the position you are applying for, conduct market research on similar roles and identify the current market salary range that matches your level of experience and expertise. This will allow you to have a ballpark figure in mind before entering the interview.

When the interviewer asks you about your salary expectations, it's best to avoid giving a specific number. Instead, ask them to provide you with the salary range they have budgeted for the position. Once they’ve given you this information, you can find the sweet spot between the hiring range and the current market salary range for the role.

If the offered salary is underwhelming and there is no room for an increase, consider negotiating for other perks – like cellphone and car allowances, if you need to use your personal device and vehicle for work.

If the recruiter says, ‘We can look into increasing your salary based on your performance in 6 months,’ get the terms and conditions in writing. This should include the performance conditions that need to be met to qualify for the increase, as well as the percentage increase you can expect.


These tips will also work if you find yourself switching roles or if you are up for a promotion.


Negotiating for a salary increase

If you’ve been working at your job for some time, and you’ve taken on more responsibilities and a larger workload while improving your capabilities and upskilling yourself, it’s time that your salary reflected that. Before asking for a raise, you should prepare all the evidence and examples you have, to back up your request.

Timing is everything. You want to catch your manager at the right time, so instead of approaching them in the middle of a busy workday, send through an email asking to schedule a formal one-on-one meeting to discuss restructuring your compensation package to better reflect your current responsibilities. This also gives you a paper trail showing when you brought up the topic.

Before the meeting, compile a portfolio of examples highlighting the work you have done so far, paying close attention to your achievements and any aspects that went beyond your job description. Tasks such as training co-workers, managing projects, and any improvement strategies you implemented should also be pointed out.

It helps to include a copy of your original job description, so that you can highlight how you have gone above and beyond what’s expected of you. You should also add any positive feedback you’ve received from colleagues or clients. Listing these examples will demonstrate your value to the company and why you deserve an increase.

Hard facts are difficult to argue against, so include data and statistics to support your request. For example, you can highlight how your contributions have increased revenue or saved the company money.

Remember: this is a negotiation, not an argument. Put any feelings of frustration aside and have the conversation without letting emotions get the better of you. You want to be confident but not arrogant, so remain open to feedback and be willing to discuss what a reasonable raise might be, based on your performance and the company’s financial situation.

After your meeting, follow up with an email to reiterate your interest in a salary increase, summarise any key points or promises made, and ask about next steps. Once this has been put in writing, it becomes harder to dispute, but it also shows that you are serious about the matter and committed to your career growth within the company.

What if your request gets denied?

You can do everything right and there’s still the chance that you won’t be successful, but don’t give up. If your supervisor is unable to offer you a raise at this time, ask if there is a timeline for when a raise may be possible in the future. This will keep the conversation going and demonstrate your continued commitment to the company.

If the reason for the denial is not apparent, ask for feedback on why your request was denied. This can help you understand the decision and improve your negotiation skills in the future. Also ask for a checklist of things that will make you better positioned for an increase, as this will allow you to focus on key aspects of your growth.

Negotiating your salary can be uncomfortable, but with these tips you can approach the conversation with confidence and professionalism. Keep in mind that you’re not just negotiating for your current salary, but for your future earning potential and career growth.

Remain open-minded. A higher salary isn’t the only way to increase the reward for your efforts – you might be able to negotiate other aspects of your compensation package, like bonuses, equity or benefits.

The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.