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Tricks you can use to negotiate a good salary during a job interview

OPINION
By Davis Tamba | July 29th 2021
Two businesspeople shaking hands at the office [Courtesy]

The few who’ve known me from my career training in Human Resource Management have always wanted to know if there’s counsel that I can give when it comes to negotiations on salaries in employment.

Truth is, I should say, every skill anyone picks up will come in handy depending on when, how and for what reason it was used. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that many of the textbook negotiation skills have become obsolete or redundant in an ever-dynamic employment world.

Your knowledge of market wage rates, for instance, might be a useful negotiation tool, but walk into the interview room right now and you’ll witness a landscape that has changed.

Everyone can and I believe is gifted uniquely as concerns negotiation skills; and similarly everyone can be and I believe is limited in their unique way. There’s a common issue though, an overlooked bone of conversation as far as the call for equal pay is concerned between genders, and that is the agreeable factor.   

Clinical psychologists will agree with me that women are ‘naturally more agreeable than men,’ and therefore the ease of acceptance of offer. And don’t get me wrong, I do understand I must tread carefully when it comes to this gender sensitive discussion. By saying women are ‘naturally more agreeable’ I don’t imply that women are bad decision makers, no. What I am alluding to is the scientific fact that women ‘actually tend to be naturally easy to agree with than men are,’ a psychological attribute that tends to work to their disadvantage when it comes to negotiations on salaries.

I believe the ‘agreeable factor’ is one among other reasons the idea of ‘equal work for equal pay’ across the gender divide hasn’t borne much fruit and probably won’t in the foreseeable future.

Covid-19 has hit businesses hard and many employers are marveling at the opportunity of hiring at immorally low wages. You’ll think there’s no one willing to take up that job but as soon as you step out of the interview room there’s a whole line waiting; all hoping you fail so that they stand a chance. When you’re a human being without options and with bills to pay you’re desperate, and hence you’ll fall for the humble morsels thrown your way. 

So what do you do in such circumstances?

I do have tips to help sharpen your skills and know what to expect. I don’t guarantee their success but years in the profession tell me they work, even if not always.

First, know your worth. Always name your price in the beginning and if it ever gets too expensive or less expensive get out of there. The important thing is acting true to yourself even when the crowd is watching you. When you don’t know what you’re worth, you’ll always buy into the price they first present and all the time this price is inferior to what you are worth.

If the price gets too expensive, you’ll have sold yourself to modern day slavery, with employers demanding returns for every extra coin they wire into your bank account. Such kind of a high commitment takes away your most valuable asset, and that is your time. You get married to your work because of the unwritten requirement that you must account for every cent. You lose the vital work-life balance, your relationships are harmed, and God forbid that the work-derived stress throws you into mental problems. And you know what most employers do when that comes to play? They designate you a liability and unceremoniously discharge you on a performance related charge, and move to recruit the next victim. 

On the other hand, if you name your price as less expensive, employers view you as desperate. They will swiftly take you on board but have very little respect for you and your work.

And it is easy to know your worth. Find out what the industry pays for an occupation and profession like yours, and with experience like yours. See what you’ve got to offer and tag a price on that within the industry range. Stick with that. If they’ll consider you unaffordable then it’s their loss, not yours. After all, you’re a limited edition.

Second, I think it works best in your interest to have options, or at least create the impression you have options. Never appear desperate for a job, even if you are, because believe me that’s the indication employers look for when they intend to tie you down to unfavourable pay. Make a habit of having options and not be reliant on a specific outcome.

You can still look up another offer elsewhere. Options will show the employer you know your worth, are a competitive job-seeker and therefore an attractive applicant.

Options are power to you. As Tomassi notes in his masculine read The Rational Male, a man without options (of females) is a powerless man and therefore can’t command the interest of the best females in courtships. The same is true in employment and salaries.

And even when you’re sure you don’t have options create the perception that you actually do. Say things like, “General Motors offered me more than that, actually”. I was reluctant to take it up because of the distance.’

Sit back and watch them steal glances at each other then counter your offer.

Third, I think a little research helps. Dig up some information about the organisation, and more specifically on the salary previously paid for the job you’re applying to in the same organisation. I guarantee you, unless it is a newly established job, organisations will seek replacements at lower or the equivalent salaries of what the previous occupier of the job was earning. You stand a better chance when you match what the previous job holder was earning.

Fourth, I’ll say just go for it; name your price and let them counter your offer. Somewhere between the counter offers you may reach a deal that is favourable to you, and when the offer is unfavourable never be afraid of saying no. The important thing is staying true to yourself, even when everyone is looking at you, because it shows you know your worth.

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