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How to get the salary you want

By Pauline Muindi | March 14th 2020

You’ve breezed through the job interview. You are confident that you’ve answered every question effectively. As the hiring managers wind down the interview, they ask you the question you had been dreading. “What are your salary expectations?”

For many people, this is one of the trickiest questions in job interviews. On one hand, you want to negotiate the best possible compensation package for yourself. And on the other hand, you are afraid that you won’t get hired if you quote too high a price.

Getting the salary you want and deserve can feel downright impossible. But it really isn’t. If you’re equipped with the right knowledge, you can ace the delicate salary negotiation dance and get the compensation package you deserve.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Know what your skills and experience are worth

Your current position might be a good starting point in estimating how much you should expect. However, this is not always the case. Your new employer might even be willing to double your current salary if you convince them you’re worth it.

Before going for the interview, make sure you research what other professionals are earning in your field. If you know someone who’s working in the company, can they tell you how much to expect? What does the company’s direct competitor offer for a similar position? You can also get a good grasp of the salary ranges by going through local job listing sites for similar positions. Additionally, you can consult recruitment firms – they will tell you how much most of their clients are willing to pay for a similar position.

Give yourself extra credit for any schooling or training you’ve completed, the experience you’ve gained, and skills you’ve acquired. Don’t be afraid to leverage them for extra money.

2. Let them make an offer

During the interview, avoid mentioning your salary expectations without being asked. Instead, focus on showing the hiring manager the value you will bring to their company. Ideally, by the time you get to the salary negotiations, they will have decided they have to have you. This puts you in a strong negotiation position.

Once they make an offer, you can follow it up with a higher figure and make a case for why you deserve it. If you take the first offer, you will probably be cheating yourself of a fortune in lifetime earnings, especially if you end up working in that company for many years. Remember, the first offer is usually on the lower side of the range that the employer is willing to pay.

In many job interviews, the hiring managers will ask you about your salary expectations before making an offer. They might ask what you were earning in your previous position or are earning in your current position. Remember, you don’t have to divulge this information. You can politely decline to answer and instead shift the focus on the value you bring and the industry rates for a similar position. Never lie about your current salary. If a hiring manager is really interested in finding that out, they can easily get the information from your references. If they find out that you lied, they will find it hard to trust you enough to even hire you.

3. Negotiate firmly and quickly

Statistics show that women tend to settle for lower salaries than men with the same level of education, experience and skill. One study found that for every dollar earned by a man, on average a woman is paid 54 cents.

One of the reasons for this pay gap is down to the differences in how the genders handle salary negotiations. Statistics show that only 7 per cent of women negotiate their salary offers. This results in men’s starting salaries being 7.6 per cent higher on average than what women get.

In a study which involved more than 500 women, researchers found that women are uncomfortable negotiating compensation and don’t do it as effectively as men. They also found that 60 per cent of women take the outcomes of their negotiations personally. They see a poor outcome of negotiation as a reflection of their value as an employee.

To be more effective in negotiating for the salary you want, approach the conversation with confidence and assertiveness. If you can make a case for why you deserve the pay, most employers would rather pay it if they can afford to. This is because finding the right person for the job can be quite expensive, especially for higher-level positions. When they have found the right candidate, hiring managers know it might be cheaper to give them the salary they want rather than having the position remain vacant longer.

But don’t draw out the negotiations. Once an offer has been made, you can make one counter offer. Allow them to think it over and give you an offer which is acceptable to you. Bear in mind that overly long negotiations care annoying and tedious to both parties.

4.Don’t let them smell desperation

Don’t be too eager to accept the final offer which the hiring manager has suggested. Don’t give a definitive answer right away, as this might communicate some sort of desperation on your part. Ask for time to think it over before giving a response.  This extra time allows you to review your options with family or other prospective employers. 

If the offer surpasses or meets your expectations, it is okay to be excited. But take care not to be too excited, which can make you look desperate. At this point, you don’t know how many other candidates are being considered for the position, so play it cool. Make sure that they know that you’re eager to work for the company, but that you’re worth every penny they will pay you.

5.Negotiate non-salary benefits                           

Sometimes, employers are willing to add non-salary benefits to their offer to get the candidate they want, especially if these benefits don’t cost them financially. For example, you can ask for a better job title, an office, additional vacation days, ability to work remotely on some days of the week and so on.

If you still don’t get the salary you want, you can ask for a review in six or nine months. This will give you time to prove yourself and negotiate for a pay raise.

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