How to negotiate your salary

Three people sitting in a meeting room to discuss salaries

As revealed in the latest Walters People Salary Survey, 54% of finance professionals and 56% of business support professionals did not receive any salary increase in the past year.

Asking your boss for a raise – or your new employer for a higher starting salary – is never an easy conversation to have.

So how can you prove you’re the right person for a promotion or to take on new responsibilities?

The first rule to follow is to gather as much information as possible before any discussion begins. You need to be well prepared. This includes how well the company is doing. Have they posted record profits, or is their financial performance below their targets? Have they recently made redundancies or are they increasing headcount?

These factors, among others, will impact if the organisation is going to pay above, below or on the market rate salary for a role. Here are the 3 top questions you should be able to answer before entering into any negotiating talks.

What is the current market rate for your role?

“Make sure you have a good idea of what other people with your level experience and responsibilities are earning” says Marie-Astrid Carlier, Senior Manager of Walters People.

Consider your function, but also factor in the industry you work in. These factors both have a significant impact on the salary you can expect. "The Walters People Salary Survey includes comprehensive information on salary evolutions and recruitment trends across a range of sectors and is a valuable resource when it comes to negotiating your pay." 

What are the market conditions?

Research the current conditions in your industry. Is there a shortage of candidates with your skillsets? Have salaries been going up or remaining largely static? Are there a large number of roles available in your sector which need the skillsets you possess?

Finding the answers to these questions will help to shape your expectations for any salary increase and leave you well equipped when you enter into negotiations.

"Use trade press publications as the basis for your research. Being aware of the news that impacts your profession will help you identify which skills and competences justify a realistic salary increase."

Are there any salary trade-offs?

“Although a pay increase is your main goal when entering into salary negotiations, factor in  the potential trade-offs, such as a lower bonus, which might impact your overall remuneration package” advises Marie-Astrid.

Ask your employer to clarify what you will need to deliver in terms of performance in order to maintain your usual bonus. “Alternatively, if your employer is unable to meet your salary expectations,  consider whether there are other benefits or non-pay alternatives that you would consider as an adequate trade.” 

You may not get your way this time, so prepare yourself for a "no" just in case. If you are unsuccessful in your request, be professional and ask if there may be a suitable time to put your case forward again.

Ultimately, if your current employer is unable to meet your expectations, it may be time to consider a new job.

Download our Salary Checker App to find out what you’re worth.

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