For the Win/Win: 9 Tips for How to Negotiate Salary in a Job Offer

For the Win/Win: 9 Tips for How to Negotiate Salary in a Job Offer
Jobstreet content teamupdated on 31 May, 2022

Apart from the interview, salary negotiation is the most challenging phase of the job search.

As you move up – or move around – in your career, you’ll develop strategies for how to negotiate salary in a job offer.

First, find out if the salary is negotiable. Some jobs truly are fixed-rate, such as hourly wage jobs and some civil service roles. But if there’s any low- and high-end, it’s game on.

Think about it like a card game or sports match. They expect you to negotiate. But unlike sports, it can be a win-win. Here’s how.

The best time to negotiate is when you’re being offered the job. Here’s why.

You may want the job, at any salary. But you’re at the job offer stage, so you know they’re interested. Now you just need to get the best deal.

Recruiting is expensive and time-consuming. The employer wants to hire you, not look for new candidates. Use this to your advantage.

Pre-Game: Prepare well.

Beat your anxiety.

If you’re in sales, new business, or any client-facing role, negotiation is part of your job. But it can be a prime source of stress for those in other fields.

Many Filipinos are culturally conditioned to be modest and humble, especially about money.

Some of us are also taught to be non-confrontational, to say yes rather than counter-offer. This is especially common for women: in a 2020 US study, 57% of the women who responded hadnevernegotiated their salary, versus 51% of men.

Thus, talking about what we deserve to be paid can be awkward. It can feel like boasting,nagbubuhat ng sariling bangko.If we name a figure and the other side pushes back, we fold.

Don’t. They’re just doing their job: to acquire your skills for the company at the lowest possible cost. Just do yours: stand up for yourself and protect your interests.

Do your homework. Set a number.

Know the typical salary range for your future position: high end and low end. Check websites, ask family and friends in similar industries, post questions in online groups. Know your grail salary, but also the absolute lowest you’ll accept. Have a number in mind and work toward it.

Struggling to start? This may help:

Once you have the number you want, make a one-sheet summary of why you deserve it. Be specific: include project wins, results in numbers like lower costs or faster times, rave reviews from clients or colleagues. Print it out and bring it to your negotiation – both for your employer and to keep your own confidence up.

“If I were the boss I would–”  Prepare a quick but specific answer, two or three simple ideas to do things better. This shows that you think beyond your daily tasks, a key sign that you’re ready for a higher position – and salary.

Rehearse with a friend.

Write out a script with the employer’s likely arguments and your responses.

Practice with a friend, and ask them to add some surprise questions. Then, test it with our Jobstreet Interview tool, which lets you record and view your answers so you can improve. Do this repeatedly until you get comfortable arguing for yourself.

During your video practice, check your computer setup, lighting, camera angle and backdrop. Be sure they’re ready for any sudden video interview.

Game Time: How to get the salary you want

First things first: establish your worth

You have a number in mind. But never agree to discuss it until you’ve established your qualifications.

Even if the recruiter asks you directly, don’t answer. Instead, steer the discussion to briefly recap your strengths. Highlight why you deserve the job – and the top salary. This is where your one-sheet and “if I were the boss” ideas come in handy.

Once the company sees you’re prepared and confident in your worth, you’ll have the upper hand in negotiating the salary you want.

How to answer a direct question about your previous salary

If you must quote a figure, make sure it includes incentives, bonuses, and so on. Then immediately explain why it’s too low – new responsibilities, expanded role, etc.  Whatever figure you quote, keep it realistic. The employer can probably check your claims with a quick phone call or two.

Quote higher than your final number.

Start at the top end of the salary range you researched. This gives the employer room to negotiate. If you start with your actual goal salary, you’re likely to end up with less.

Don’t be rattled if the employer makes an offer first, and it’s lower than expected. Instead, be ready to respond with “That’s a little low. Can you do better?” or, “What’s the flexibility on that?”

Be ready to discuss performance-based incentives. Always document your agreements.

Your first card is performance-based incentives – a bonus when you hit a target. Be ready with a measurable target and time frame, plus your expected bonus. Document the full agreement so you can hold them to it.

In some industries, it’s common for employees to accept low initial offers, contingent on a salary review after six months. Like those “Try before you buy” deals on TV, this can be a win-win. If you’re as good as you say, the company will happily offer you more. When you accept, state that the offer is low, but you’ll take it because you see the opportunity to prove yourself. Be clear that you expect to renegotiate your salary at a later stage.

Don’t assume these are “understood.” If your interviewer changes jobs, you might get a new boss who will hold you to that low figure – without understanding or agreeing to the conditions you set.

Also read: Employee bonuses now come in many varieties

Bridge the gap with non-monetary or non-salary incentives.

Another great way to close the gap is via non-monetary incentives or perks. These can include work-from-home options, extra paid time off, and subsidized parking, meals, and gym memberships.

Monetary but non-salary perks can also be a big factor in your decision. These include much better health coverage and low-interest, company-sponsored housing loans – just be ready to pay these in full when you want to leave.

Incentives like these can go a long way. Before the negotiation, think about these perks, confirm with HR or the employer, and do your math.

Also read: Health Insurance vs. HMO in the Philippines: What Are the Benefits For You

Bonus tip: Dress the part

Finally, dress for the job – and the salary – you want. Prepare your best work outfit – shirt and jacket pressed and well fitting, shoes and bag clean and polished. For a video interview, focus on what’s on cam: neat, well-groomed hair, skin, and nails; understated makeup and a good watch if you have one.

Know the dress codes of your future company – engineers may dress differently from bankers. Observe the higher-ups: what items do they consider status symbols? Follow their lead with the best that you can afford, and go for classic pieces rather than ones that will quickly go out of style.

Why is this important? Your presentation is a sign of self-worth and high personal standards. It tells the employer that you’re an achiever on the rise, a wise investment who’ll fit the company culture. Think of how salespeople upsell cars or motorbikes: add leather seats or sports stripes, and suddenly the base model is worth 10% more.

Salary discussions make many of us uncomfortable, veteran and newbie job seekers alike. It takes practice to learn how to negotiate salary in a job offer, but it’s a must whatever your industry.

The base salary you accept now will affect your earning potential throughout your career.  Do your homework and cover all the angles, so you can get the salary you want.

Ready to negotiate that job offer? Then #LetsGetToWork!

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