How to negotiate your starting salary

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Discussing money is always a delicate matter. As the recent gender pay gap revelations at the BBC shows, salaries can vary a great deal between two very similar roles. This variance is prevalent across all sectors and professions. To keep the salary for new positions ‘hush hush’ it’s not uncommon for job adverts to state the salary as attractive, competitive or negociable. While this means current staff remain unaware of what their new colleagues may earn, it also leaves applicants slightly in the dark as to the salary on offer.

If you’re working with a recruitment consultant then they should have discussed salary brackets with both you and their client in advance, hopefully minimising the risk of a large mismatch. But with some salary bands covering £10,000 plus there is room for disappointment.

But what happens if you’re offered the job but the salary isn’t what you were hoping for?  How can you negotiate your starting salary?

1. Ask – us Brits, as a rule, don’t like to haggle, we tend to stick to paying the price that’s quoted. The same goes for job offers. Many people just take the offer they’re given, regardless of whether they’re happy with it or not. While we don’t suggest you always ask for more, if you feel that the figure you’ve been offered doesn’t reflect the skills and experience you’d bring then ask. It doesn’t have to be a bold and brash demand, it could simply be.. ‘I’m delighted to accept the role and really excited about the opportunity of working for XXXX. However, as I bring with me X year’s experience of XXX, the salary is a little lower than I was hoping for.’

2. Know what you’re worth – Don’t base your expectations on your current salary, as you may be paid under (or over) the current market rate for your role. Before you attempt to negotiate your starting salary, do your research. There are a number of salary comparison tools available, many that allow you to compare salaries for your job title, sector and region. This will give you an idea of what you’re worth and whether your expectations are correct. While you may want to earn £60k if every other HR Manager in the area is earning on average £50k, you’re unlikely to be successful, but if you’re being offered £40k and the average is £55k then there is perhaps room for movement.

3. Be prepared to compromise – until you start your new role, a CV and a few interviews are the only experience your new employer will have of you. Asking them to pay more without any hard evidence of your ability is, to a certain extent, a leap of faith. One that not every employer would be willing, or would have the budget, to take. If they can’t reach your ideal figure but come close enough, be willing to compromise. If the role offers you good long-term prospects it’s perhaps better to have some patience. There is no harm in accepting a lower figure with the caveat that you’ll have a pay review in three or six months. This will give you time to impress your new employer and build up evidence of why you deserve the extra money.

4. There is more than money – salary alone isn’t everything. If your new employer is unable to offer a higher salary there may be other perks that could be available. Additional holiday perhaps, a better company car, gym membership or private healthcare. Think outside the box and don’t just focus on the pounds and pence.

If you’ve been open and honest about your expectations from the beginning then most employers would offer a salary that reflects this.

‘How to negotiate your starting salary’ was written by Verity Morrish, Marketing Manager Chiumento Consulting. If you like what you’ve read why not follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter and read all our future advice and musings on the world of work.

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