You are searching for a job and have made your way through the initial screening process, leading you to prepare for the first interview. Congratulations, getting your CV noticed is tough, and means you are one step closer to successfully landing a job. When preparing for the interview, it’s important to rehearse questions that might come your way and one of those questions will probably be about your salary expectations. As such, this is an element of the job search that you should be prepared for: salary negotiation.

In certain situations, you might wonder whether negotiation is even an option or appropriate. For example, can you negotiate salary as an entry-level or junior employee? Or how about for any job during a recession? Or is it ok to negotiate if you have taken a break for motherhood or another personal reason and are just getting back into the workforce?

In each of these scenarios, the short answer is yes, always negotiate. Employers will prepare for and expect some level of negotiation when it comes to salary, and if you are selected, you are always in a position to negotiate, other factors aside. At worst, your prospective employer will say no to your negotiation attempts, but it’s likely that you will receive at least part of, if not all of what you are negotiating for, ending up in a better position overall.

Negotiating salary shows that you are well-prepared, value your own professional worth and it can put you in a good position for future promotions and pay rises. As an important part of the process, it’s essential to prepare, so here are 6 tips to negotiate your salary like a pro.

1. Ensure salary expectations match

While you do not want to bring up salary too early in the process, it’s important to make sure that your salary expectations match the budget of the role that you are applying for before you get too far along. There is always some room for negotiation, so find out what the budgeted range is, and make sure it aligns with your expectations. Additionally, when asked about your own salary expectations, give a range as your first response, rather than a set number.

2. Do your research

Find out what professionals with similar experience are making. Research salary averages for the role, industry and location where you are. Seek out reports like our Salary Guide 2020 to help inform your own salary expectations. It’s easier to negotiate if you are well-informed about average salaries, industry standards, and what peers are making.

3. Identify your own value

Along with knowing what the market pays for similar roles in similar industries, take time to list out what makes you worth the amount you will be asking for. Identify unique skills or experience you have, even if it is in the form of internships or volunteer work. When speaking with the hiring manager, attempt to find out the biggest pain points that the company has in relation to this job, and list out how your specific set of experience and education will help address those items. Knowing your own value will help you present it to others.

4. Consider the whole package

While salary is important, remember that you can also negotiate benefits such as extra vacation days, or a flexible schedule. When preparing to negotiate, think about what is most important to you, and identify a few benefits that could replace salary if the hiring budget is very fixed.

5. Practice your negotiations

Similar to prepping for interview questions, it’s important to practice negotiating. Prepare and then rehearse your counteroffer, ensuring that it is well-researched, laid out reasonably, and that you are confident in its delivery.

6. Appreciate the learning experience

Whether this is your first job or tenth, there will always be an element of salary negotiation to future jobs and within those jobs for pay rises. Even if it doesn’t work out this time, it’s good to practice, make mistakes and learn how to be successful in the next round.

Confidence is key

The most important thing to remember during any salary negotiation at any level is to not be intimidated and to be confident in what you can offer the company. Remember, they are choosing you, which means that you are the one that is most suited to fit the open position. Keeping this confidence throughout will help ensure that you come across as calm, professional and worthy of that salary you are aiming for. 

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