Written by Mark Rowland - 18 September 2019
Whether you’re about to start a new job or have an upcoming performance review, it’s important to know how to ask for what you want
Negotiations around salary, perks and promotions can be difficult to master, particularly at the beginning of your career. It can feel awkward, or like you’re sticking your neck out a little too far. You want to demonstrate your value to the team without coming across as cocky, and your arguments have to have substance.
Do your research
Before you go in to negotiate salary or perks, make sure you know what’s realistic. If you throw out a huge number at the interview stage, for example, it might put off potential employers. Know the market and what you can expect, and think about where you might be able to get it to, based on your experience.
Back up your claims
Saying “I’m the best person for this position” or “I think I should be paid more” is not going to get you anywhere when it comes to salary negotiations. You were hired because in your CV and interview, you demonstrated that you could add value. Negotiations around salary and promotions are the same. Bring some examples of the value you’ve contributed to the team, or if you’re negotiating before you accept the offer, a skill or trait that could be particularly valuable to the company – relate it very specifically to what the team is doing; don’t speak in general terms.
Keep it professional
As much as your rent might be putting pressure on your pocket, don’t talk about your personal circumstances when discussing pay. Keep it about the role, your experience and your performance – this is about your value to the business, and what that’s worth.
Make it a conversation
Negotiations aren’t about playing hardball – they’re about working to find a solution. This is especially true for negotiations around perks and pay. Explain that you’re hoping for an increase in salary/a better perk/a promotion and ask how you can get there. If you’re doing a good job, your line manager will help you to get where you need to be, and you can build a plan together. Playing hardball and threatening to leave, however, is a good way to shut down negotiations completely.
Don’t roll over
You don’t want to come across as too aggressive, but you do need to be prepared to fight your corner. If you’ve done your preparation, you know what value you offer and why you deserve more. Keep those arguments in the front of your mind and be prepared to push back – politely and professionally – if you think the offer is too low. Expect to go back and forth a little before you arrive at something you’re happy with.
Know when to walk away
If times are tough, the business might want to give you a raise but just don’t have the budget for it. In that case, you need to weigh up your options. If you love the company, its culture and the work you do, don’t throw that away for a few more pounds – in a few months, they might be in a position to reward your hard work. On the other hand, you may feel it’s time to find something new – don’t use a new job as leverage unless you’re actually prepared to leave. If you do mention another job as part of your negotiations, keep it professional, and maintain your enthusiasm for the work you’re doing. If your manager doesn’t believe that you want to stay, they’re unlikely to rally behind you.
Before going into this discussion, it may be worth giving yourself a performance review so you know where you’re excelling (or not)
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Mark Rowland is a senior writer. He has worked as a business journalist and editor for 15 years, and has won awards for his writing and editing. He has also overseen the launch and continuous development of new websites and publications.