The reality of employment is that as long as you are interested or already in it, at some point you will most likely have to negotiate your salary. Esther Maina, the CEO of International Sales Training Institute and an expert in negotiations, gives us tips on how you should go about it.
1. Do your homework
Do your research. Nowadays it is so open in the job market that you can easily know what your salary could be depending on level of education and experience. There are HR (Human Resource) consultants and head-hunters who can give you that information.
Don’t go to the negotiation table without knowing what you are facing. What do companies in that industry pay the people in the position you are gunning for? That way you can gauge where you can place yourself in terms of the salary you will ask for.
2. Know your value
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Identify your value as an employee based on your experience, what you have studied – are you a master’s holder, a degree holder? Have you done more studying on the side that is going to help your job? What is it that will make you stand out? Are you a fellow of a certain institute?
Maybe you have gone the extra mile and studied social media. The question is: what are you bringing to the table that would benefit that company? That will give you your price. If they do not see value, price will become an issue. Articulate and show your value to them clearly.
3. Don’t accept the first offer
There are two kinds of HR people – those who put their cards on the table, which is the true picture of how much salary they are paying and others who will hold back and could possibly give a better offer. Don’t accept the first offer if you have done good research and you know they can pay more.
You have to be careful with this one. It goes back to how good your research was on what kind of company they are. With good research, you can firmly say that you will not accept that particular offer, as you will be aware of what they really pay. Without good research, you can’t refuse the first offer put on the table.
4. Don’t make the first offer
The amount you plan to state might be the best offer you have seen, yet you might be selling yourself short. Hear them out. This is if you can avoid it, because sometimes the people hiring will ask you what your salary expectation is.
5. Be cordial but assertive
You do not want to appear arrogant. Be mindful of your demeanour, the way you speak, what you say and the words you use as this will make a huge difference. It is not what you say, it is how you say it. Think of the best choice of words available to you. Show excitement.
As much as you are being firm, also be excited and let them see that you are actually interested in working for them. You can say to them, “Don’t you think you would like to hire somebody who is excited, who already knows about you, has researched you and has already thought of a plan of how can move you from point A to B?” Of course it shouldn’t be just for show. You should have already done the things you are talking about and be ready to implement them once you get the job.
6. Think beyond the salary base
With this, they can give you a certain amount but you can then negotiate for other things. You can ask if it comes with a medical cover, a car, housing – you never know what else the company is giving, that maybe even if the salary is low, would take care of other things that are important to you.
Think even of flexitime. You can decide that because you have an infant, you would like to have flexitime so that you can work until, say, 3 o’clock, so that you can be spending more time with your child. If they can give you that, that family time may be more important to you even if you are taking a lower salary. It can even be about experiences.
Maybe every year they give you a ticket to another country to represent the company in certain areas. They may be worth more than the extra money you are asking for. Aim high but prepare for rejection. They can tell you that what you are asking for is beyond their budget, so be prepared to meet them halfway.
7. Maintain confident body language
You can tell when someone has low self-esteem and low confidence. You can be asking for a certain amount of money while looking like you cannot do the job. Always look the part. Be confident and speak with good articulation.
People must hear you, so don’t swallow your words, use the correct language and keep it professional. When you walk in, wait to be shown where to sit. Sit up, do not stoop, do not place your elbows on the table and mirror their dress code.
Your research will tell you how to dress. How you dress when going to a tech organisation will be different from how you dress when interviewing for a banking job. It does not hurt to ask the person who calls you what the dress code is. Look the part. Look like the money you are asking for.
8. Be memorable
People like to hear success stories. Facts tell, stories sell. Facts will be like, “I have a PhD, I have worked for 10 companies,” etc. They tell who you are, but what if you gave them in the form of a story? You can say, “When I joined company A, I found that they were at 100 million in sales. By the time I was leaving in two years, we had come out of the negatives and now we are in the positives. That is what I want to bring for you.” That will make you memorable and they will certainly remember you when they are doing their analysis.