Three little rules for salary negotiation
Money in a touchy subject. In our personal lives we don’t talk about it much. It’s not really socially acceptable to ask our friends and peers how much they earn, or to brag (or whine) about our own salary.
It can be just as awkward in a professional setting, particularly when negotiating a salary for a new role. If we go too low, we could undersell ourselves, but aim too high and we price ourselves out. It can feel like a no-win situation.
The good news? Little Black Book can help!
When it comes to salary negotiation, we’ve created three golden rules:
Rule #1 – Know what your expectations are
How much do you want? Simple question that usually comes with a not-so-simple answer.
“It depends on the role, I’m open to discussion…”
“I’m genuinely not motivated by money – for me it’s about the people.”
“Well, I’m currently on 110K, so it needs to be somewhere around there.”
All valid points, but unfortunately none of them answer the question. I understand that you don’t want to come across as ‘all about the money’, but with food shopping, kids, bills, rent and mortgages – there need to be some parameters.
How can you get what you want, when you don’t know what that is?
When I’m helping candidates with this, I ask them to think about their answer in three simple parts.
- Bottom dollar. The absolute lowest amount I would accept. $1 lower and I’ll have to walk away.
- Happy to accept. A good result that I’m happy with.
- Over the moon. Holy smokes, I’m jumping for joy – let’s go shopping! For a beach house!
There’s no perfect formula for this and it depends on the person and their situation. For some people, an increase on current earnings is important, for others that’s not the case. It doesn’t matter how you come to with your three numbers, what’s important is that you’re really clear.
Keep in mind that a 10% raise when moving jobs is pretty standard.
Rule #2 – Communicate your expectations clearly and at the right time
If you’re asked what your salary expectations are, answer the question. There is absolutely no reason to hold out, be vague or ‘keep it open’.
When you’re asked, ideally communicate a range between your ‘happy to accept’ and ‘over the moon’ amounts. At this point, there’s no need to reveal your bottom dollar.
Once you’ve answered the question, you can then ask them what the salary band is. Now you’ll know if you’re in the same ballpark and you can make decisions about next steps.
What do I do if the interviewer doesn’t bring up money?
You do need to ask for an indication of the salary band, but timing is critical. Newsflash: It should not be one of your first questions!
First ascertain if the role, organisation and people/culture are right for you. Then, if the subject still hasn’t come up, ask for an indication of salary range.
You should always know this before you invest time in an interview. If the answer is below your bottom dollar – now’s the time to communicate your expectations clearly and appropriately.
I have heard too many situations where a job seeker will go through all sorts of interviews, testing and reference checks, only to find out at the end of the process the salary isn’t right.
Don’t be one of these people. Don’t waste your valuable time.
Rule #3 – Don’t change your mind
Please. Especially after you’ve received an offer.
“Actually Bob, I’ve had a think about it and now that I understand more about the job, I think I need a little more”. NO!!
Some people may argue that this is part of the negotiation. I strongly disagree. This is not the way to start a new relationship with an employer and nobody wins.
Just be clear from the beginning about what you want and start your new job without an underlying sense of mistrust.
- See this as the first interaction with your new colleagues. You want to start as you mean to go on and build trust and respect from the outset.
- It’s all about clear, open and appropriately timed communication.
- Negotiation needn’t be tricky. If you’re clear from the outset what your expectations are, and understand what the employer’s range is, there’s probably little need to negotiate at all. Win win!
How we can help.
If you’re lucky enough to be working through a recruiter, then you don’t need to tackle this dilemma yourself. Recruiters like us negotiate on your behalf and because we’re remunerated on a % of your salary, you can rest assured we always have your best interests at heart.