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Climbing the Career Ladder: The Art of Salary Negotiation

The month of March is often associated with the colour green, due in part to the Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on the 17th. Green is the colour of new shoots representing spring growth and, crucially, it is also the colour associated with money. Whether through a promotion or a new job, growing the green stuff in your pocket is important to everyone. Generally a sensitive topic, if not downright daunting, salary negotiations are an unavoidable element of career development. The following are a number of guidelines to help you achieve your green pursuits.

When applying for a new job, what figure do you state as your salary expectations?

The first rule here is to try to get the company to state what they are willing to pay first. If you are forced to commit to a figure, some homework will pay off. First, assess what your minimum dollar value is based on your expenses. Then look to what your peers in the industry are getting and select an average. Add a % to this average which equates with what you feel the tolerance of your new company is likely to accommodate.  Some background knowledge of the company is important so that you do not over-price yourself – ask friends, colleagues, and research the media for company announcements that may give you an indication of the financial health of the company. This final figure then becomes the point from which salary negotiations can begin.

When selected for a promotion at work, what is the best approach to salary negotiations?

Given that your company already knows your salary there can be a tendency to offer an increment based on that rather than what the new position is worth. Successful salary negotiations in this situation are a balancing act between how you leverage the benefits you are bringing to the new position with what the market rate for that role is.  There may be a measure of compromise as you do not wish to lose out on the promotion and crucially you need to avoid issuing an ultimatum as should your salary demands not be met, then you will be forced to look outside the company for future upward mobility.

Commence your negotiations on a positive note, expressing appreciation for the opportunity being presented to you. Justify your position and the strengths you bring to the role. Make your request for a salary that would likely be offered to an outside candidate and ask that your employer consider matching that for you. Make your request reasonable and remember that regardless of the outcome, you will still be working there, and so cordial discussions are vital to a continued and healthy relationship with your employer.

You enjoy your job and don’t want to leave, but what if an employer refuses to raise your salary when you need it?

In a recent article published in the Journal of Organisational Behaviour entitled Goal striving, idiosyncratic deals, and job behaviour, it has been found that the granting of idiosyncratic deals is steadily gaining popularity. These deals are tangible employment conditions or arrangements that are explicitly negotiated and are tailored to the personal preferences and needs of employees. Examples include overseas training opportunities, tailored working hours and expanded telecommuting opportunities. They can be used either as a human resource strategy for enhancing employee loyalty and performance or as a bargaining tool by an employee when a salary increase is not forthcoming. When an employer is not in a position to raise your salary, suggest alternative benefits which you feel would reward your commitment.

Negotiation is never easy for anyone. It is all about preparation and effective communication. Have a plan of action in mind before commencing the conversation with your employer. Be confident in your value and be able to articulate it clearly to better influence the outcome, obtain an understanding of market conditions, and with a little luck on your side – March can be your month for growing your salary successfully.

Sylvia Jones at Elevate Executive Selection can be reached on Tel. +441 296 8663, by email Sylvia@elevateselection.ie. Please visit www.elevateselection.com for more information.

Sylvia Jones is the director of Elevate Executive Selection’s Bermuda Operations and has been lending her vast knowledge of the recruitment process to the continued success of her clients and candidates alike.

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