Your job search has led to an interview. Congratulations! Getting your CV and cover letter noticed is tough, and means you are one step closer to successfully landing a job. When preparing for the interview, it’s important to rehearse questions that might come your way – and one of those questions will probably be about your salary expectations. As such, salary negotiation is an element of the job search that you should be well-prepared for.

Can you always negotiate salary?

In certain situations, you might wonder whether negotiation is even an option or appropriate. For example, can you negotiate salary as an entry-level or junior employee? Or how about for any job during a recession? Or is it okay to negotiate if you have taken a break to raise children or needed to care for a family member and are just getting back into the workforce?

In each of these scenarios, the short answer is yes – always negotiate. Employers will prepare for, and expect, some level of negotiation when it comes to salary. So if you are selected, you are in a position to negotiate, other factors aside. At worst, your prospective employer will say no to your negotiation attempts but it’s likely that you could receive at least part of what you are negotiating for, and therefore end up in a better position that where you began.

Negotiating salary shows that you are well-prepared and value your own professional worth. Plus, it can put you in a good position for future promotions and pay rises.

As an important part of the process, it’s essential to prepare. Here are eight tips to help you negotiate your next salary like a pro.

1. Make sure salary expectations match

While you do not want to bring up salary too early in the process, it’s important to make sure that your salary expectations match the budget of the role that you are applying for, before you get too far along. If you require a salary that is exceedingly above the advertised job, you’ll be wasting your time as well as the interviewer, as the position is likely aimed at more entry-level personnel, rather than more experienced or senior management candidates.

There is always some room for negotiation, so find out what the budgeted range is, and make sure it aligns with your expectations. Additionally, when asked about your own salary expectations, give a range as your first response, rather than a set number.

2. Know the job market inside out

Before you even consider negotiating salary, you need to do your homework. Research salary averages for the role, industry and location where you are. Seek out reports like our Talent Trends 21 resource, or use our Salary Calculator, to help inform your salary expectations and understand the overall economic climate and market sentiment. It’s easier to negotiate if you are well-informed about average salaries, industry standards, and what peers are making.

You can also talk to a business mentor, recruitment agency or people who have advanced in the same industry as you to get a better understanding of the salary of someone with your qualifications, in your field of expertise.

3. Identify your own value

Along with knowing what the market pays for similar roles in similar industries, take time to list out what makes you worth the amount you will be asking for. Identify unique skills or experience you have, even if it is in the form of internships or volunteer work. You might also hold additional qualifications from short courses or additional learning, which other job applicants may not have.

When speaking with the hiring manager, attempt to find out the biggest pain points that the company has in relation to this job, and list out how your specific set of experience and education will help address or better, solve, those challenges. Knowing your own value will help you present it well in the job interview.

4. Consider the whole package

While salary is important, remember that you can also negotiate benefits such as extra leave days, or a flexible work arrangement. Others have been successful in securing specific education or training courses to become more qualified and move up the career ladder.

When preparing to negotiate, really think about what is most important to you and identify a few benefits that could replace salary if the hiring budget is fixed.

5. Be aware of mitigating circumstances

Keep in mind the current economic climate and your prospective future employer’s position. Rallying for a much higher salary than what’s offered may strain relationships if the company is not in a position to pay more. Knowing the economic situation prior to discussing salary will help you know your limits and weigh up whether the opportunity is worth it, even if your salary expectations can’t be matched.

6. Practise your negotiations

Similar to prepping for interview questions, it’s important to practise negotiating. Prepare and then rehearse your counter offer, ensuring that it is well-researched, laid out reasonably, and that you are confident in its delivery.

7. Appreciate the learning experience

Whether this is your first job or tenth, there will always be an element of salary negotiation to future jobs, and within those jobs, for a pay rise. Even if it doesn’t work out this time, it’s good to practise by having ongoing discussions or check-ins, and experience setbacks so you can learn how to be successful in the next round.

8. Stay clear and confident

As with putting yourself in a good position for fast-tracking a promotion, similar rules apply when negotiating salary itself. Being able to clearly demonstrate and outline that you are a valuable candidate is imperative.

And staying confident in what you can offer the company means you avoid any misunderstandings. Remember, they are choosing you, which means that you are the one that is most suited to fit the open position. Keeping this confidence throughout will help ensure that you come across as calm, professional and worthy of that salary you are aiming for.

Looking for more information about the jobs market and how your salary negotiation could fare in this climate? Download Page Personnel’s Talent Trends 21.

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