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Learn the art of salary negotiation

Kate Allen, Executive Chair and Marketing Director, Allen Associates

Whether you’re starting a role at a new company or have been selected for a promotion within your current firm, negotiating salary with your employer is naturally a daunting prospect – after all, the outcome of this conversation will determine how much your time is worth: without research and the right approach, you could find yourself taking home a lot less than the industry average.

Fear of rejection or a lack of confidence or self-belief can often prevent professionals from putting their best foot forward during this all-important conversation - while those who know how to navigate their way through salary negotiation will stand a far better chance of boosting their earnings. So how can you get the salary you seek and deserve?

Assess the situation

Landing the job of your dreams can quickly become a nightmare if you don’t secure the salary you need. Knowing how to distinguish a fair offer from one that’s too good to be true takes research and preparation: you’ll want to enter negotiations armed with insider knowledge of the market rates and the salary someone with your particular skillset typically earns.

Sites such as PayScale and Glassdoor can prove valuable in understanding the industry average but teaming up with a recruiter will help you to gain a better understanding of how much you should expect to receive from your next role.

Know what you want

Having a clear idea of what your priorities are when starting a new role is essential to steering negotiations in the right direction. It may sound obvious, but you would be surprised at the number of candidates who enter this critical conversation without knowing exactly how much they want, how much they are willing to settle at and what kind of benefits they would be willing to sacrifice or accept in place of salary. Once you establish your bottom line, you can approach salary negotiation with clarity and confidence.

Focus on your boss’ interests

When it comes to securing a competitive salary, it’s how you approach the conversation and the angle you take that will determine your success. A common mistake that professionals make in negotiations is focusing too heavily on what they feel they deserve rather than how their contribution will benefit the business’ bottom line.

While employers might be happy to tailor a benefits package to complement your working style, they don’t want to hear about your overheads during salary negotiations. Rather than focusing on your own needs and expenses, try to keep the conversation anchored around the value you can bring to the business in return for your salary.

Reference your results

When setting your salary, an employer’s key considerations will be your past experience and your potential. If you can illustrate your value with quantifiable results, you’ll have a far greater chance of convincing a prospective or current employer to look to the top end of the salary bracket when making an offer.

Whether you’re negotiating with a current employer or are starting a role in a new company, be sure to reference the successful outcomes you had in your previous job and back them up with figures where possible. Numbers don’t lie and can often speak louder than sentiments.

Be prepared to say no

Often, candidates are quick to lower their expectations when applying for roles within start-ups, for example, accepting that belts may be a little tighter than they would be in a well-established firm. However, with the prospect of a heavier workload and increased responsibility, you’ll likely regret settling for a modest salary.

What’s more, if you settle for an offer that is clearly far from your expectations, you will set the tone for the relationship: naturally, the last thing you want is to price yourself out of the market, but unless the opportunity offers significant non-financial reward or is necessary in unlocking new doors, be prepared to walk away. If you know your worth and your expectations are realistic, you won’t struggle to get it elsewhere.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service clients in the capital.

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