One hand placing bags of money in another pair of hands.
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How to negotiate a better salary in 5 easy(ish) steps

4 Jul 2018

The recruitment process is the best time for a salary negotiation, but it’s not always easy. Luckily, Hays’ Nick Deligiannis is here to help you succeed.

For many jobseekers, one of the most intimidating parts of the interview process is negotiating your salary but, by preparing properly and getting your timing right, you can step into these negotiations confident of success.

Most people know how to negotiate their next salary rise when they are in a job and can prove the value they are adding to an organisation, but they are not so sure about negotiating during the recruitment process.

There’s a time and a place

In our experience, the main reason that people run into trouble at offer stage is usually because they are unhappy with one or more aspects of the offer (usually the salary) but are uncertain how to proceed.

Most people have a salary target in mind when they start looking for their next job, but you shouldn’t raise it when you first meet a hiring manager. The issue of salary is usually raised towards the end of your second interview if you are the preferred candidate – this is your ideal time to negotiate.

If salary isn’t brought up, a job offer will be made verbally before a formal written offer is made. This verbal offer stage is the next best time to negotiate since you are now firmly positioned as the employer’s top choice.

Thank the hiring manager for their offer, affirm your enthusiasm for the role and organisation, and explain that you’d like to discuss the compensation package on offer. Never verbally agree to an offer and then ask to negotiate the salary or any other aspect of the role once you have received the written contract.

Follow these five steps

When negotiating your salary during the recruitment process, try and stick to this five-step approach.

1. Research: Familiarise yourself with current salaries before your interview – you can use the Hays Salary Guide as a tool to ensure your expectations are realistic. Knowledge is power when it comes to difficult negotiations.

2. Express interest: Tell your recruiter or the hiring manager that you are very interested in the position, but that you would like to discuss the salary. Declaring your interest before you start talking figures makes it clear to the interviewer that you’re not just chasing a high salary.

3. Be honest: Discuss openly and professionally how much you think you are worth. Be prepared to justify your estimate with examples of your expertise and previous successes, as well as the market rate for your position that you researched earlier.

4. Use your recruiter: Speak to your recruiter and listen to their advice. We are experts in recruiting and can advise you on current market trends. Your recruiter can also negotiate on your behalf without the risk of jeopardising your offer.

5. Have patience: Don’t make your salary pitch too early – instead, wait until you know you are the preferred candidate. You also should not expect an immediate response. The hiring manager will need to gain approval from their manager for any revision to an offer.

A final thought

Negotiating your salary pre-hire can be an awkward situation for some people. Keen not to endanger their risk of employment, these people leave it to the last possible moment before they start talking salary. This is not advised.

Coming to an honest and reasonable assessment of what you’re worth and articulating it thoroughly and patiently, with the help of your recruiter where appropriate, is your best chance of securing not just your dream job, but a satisfactory salary, too.

By Nick Deligiannis

Nick Deligiannis is the managing director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand. Prior to joining Hays in 1993, Deligiannis had a background in human resource management and marketing, and formal qualifications in psychology.

A version of this article originally appeared on Hays’ Viewpoint blog.

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