Discussing pay can always be a tricky issue, but you are well within your rights to do so. If you know your worth – and you are valuable to hiring companies (obviously you are) – it’s something you should pursue. But knowing how to negotiate a starting salary the right way can increase your chances of success and reduce the risk of alienating your new employer.

This article will take you through some of the things you need to do in preparation for the actual conversation, and offer a guide on the best ways of negotiating a starting salary. 

It’s worth bearing in mind that starting salary negotiations are something you can and should do yourself, but are also something that specialist recruiters like ours have a mass of experience and expertise in – so don’t hesitate to get in touch with them too.

Preparation – the number

Like other topics we have covered before, including how to tackle phone and face-to-face interviews, a large part of the art of getting a pay increase is in the preparation you do beforehand.

One of the best things you can do is find out the benchmark salary for your job. For some common positions, there will be enough information out there that means you can assess pay for that position at different levels of experience and qualifications. You should be able to get a pretty clear idea of the number you’re aiming for just from some basic research – looking at job boards, for instance.

If it’s a relatively niche position, it can be a little harder. However, this is where the help of a recruiter can come in again. They’ll be speaking to clients every day, which will give them a good idea of the salary you should be aiming for. Industry organisations and trade publications also regularly carry out salary surveys which will be useful.

Preparation – the business case

Just like in your interviews, you need to sell yourself. If you can go in with a business case that indicates the value you will bring to the company, alongside relevant examples of experience and case studies of your success, this will help enormously. 

It’ll be useful for you to look at the job description and person description beforehand, too. If you can demonstrate how you’re able to fulfil the requirements of the role – which you probably are, given that you have just been offered a job – then do so. And if you match a lot of what the company has said it wants in terms of the person they’re looking for, mention that too.

Those points combined with a clear idea of the salary you’re looking for will mean that you’ll start the conversation with a strong chance of success.

Making the case

It’s time for negotiating your starting salary. Particularly as you are speaking to someone new, from an organisation you are not yet a part of, you might feel nervous. But as long as you keep it professional, there is no reason to be. Consider this, too: If the request is rejected, you will still be in a much stronger position the next time a pay review comes around, given that you’ve already made the case to them.

During the conversation, draw attention to the business cases that you prepared beforehand – pointing out, with examples, the ways in which you will bring value to the company. 

The back and forth

This is a negotiation, after all. Just bear in mind that you’re not likely to get everything you hoped for and more. Be prepared to tell the company that you need to consider it. Just take your time and think about the offer. Keep the company informed, of course, but don’t feel too pressured to agree to the first offer they make out of fear that it will scare them away. It’s not about playing hardball, it’s just about making sure you get your worth. The hiring manager will understand that.

Speak to the experts

Negotiating a starting salary is an area where recruiters can help. Maybe all the time you’ll need is just half an hour to get on the phone with your recruiter to talk the offer through. They’ll tell you what you need to know and whether it’s a reasonable offer. Remember, our team here at RedCat are just on the other end of the phone. 

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