Negotiating a higher salary is something everyone must learn to do at some point during their career, whether interviewing for a new job or evaluating changes within your existing role. It can be an intimidating task even for those in very senior positions, so to maximise your chances of success, careful preparation is key.
Top tips for negotiating a salary increase
1. Be realistic about your market value
As with any negotiation, it is vital to do plenty of research beforehand. Whether it’s a new job or your remit has changed, there is plenty of information online that can help you objectively determine what your market value is. Try looking for similar roles on job boards or Indeed’s salary search, particularly those within your field or industry as these will be the most accurate.
2. Consider factors that may affect your market value
Leading on from this, be prudent about where you get your information from. An employee in a charity compared to one in financial services may have the same roles but very different salaries. You should also account for regional variations in salary, including whether you’re eligible for inner or outer London weighting. Make sure you’re looking at organisations similar to your own, particularly in the public and not-for-profit sectors, and try not to base your research solely on job titles – the remits of roles with the same job title can still be very different.
3. Be prepared to demonstrate how you add value to the employer
It may be helpful to lead with examples of your achievements and how you have contributed to the company within your current role, or previous roles when moving jobs. These examples can include:
- How have you increased profitability?
- Have you implemented activities to lower company costs?
- Have you achieved set goals or exceeded targets, either as an individual or as a part of your team?
If you can, be ready with quantitative data to back up your case.
4. Arrange a meeting in advance
For the conversation to be as productive as possible, email or call your line manager in advance to ask for a meeting. This demonstrates that you value their time and have acknowledged their schedule may be busy as well as allowing time for everyone to prepare for the meeting.
5. Determine your opening offer and room for manoeuvre
Before you discuss figures with your boss, existing or new, it is crucial that you have decided on an initial offer and an absolute minimum you would be satisfied with, or have a salary range in mind. These numbers should be in line with the market value of your role based on your research and reasonable in comparison to your current salary and in the context of your organisation.
6. Be as calm and confident as possible
Exuding confidence and positivity is fundamental to any negotiation: if you aren’t sure of yourself, your boss won’t be sure of you either. If your nerves tend to get the better of you, take a few deep breaths before you go in. You could also try rehearsing what you’re going to say beforehand. Remember – confidence goes hand-in-hand with preparation, so make sure you’ve prepared adequately in advance.
7. Be open and flexible
Be ready for your employer to bring ideas to the table you hadn’t perhaps considered, or to say no outright due to budget limitations or avoiding the creation of salary inequalities within your team.
The public and not-for-profit sectors often use salary bands and caps, so a raise may not be possible if you are already at the top of your band. They may offer benefits such as a car allowance, more annual leave or bonuses as a compromise if they aren’t willing to meet your offers on salary.
Think beforehand about whether there are any benefits that you would be happy to take in lieu of a salary increase. If you need to, take a few days to process before you come to a decision.
8. Be prompt with your decision
Should you not come to a decision in the meeting itself, it may work better for both parties to take some time to consider your positions and needs. However, if you do this, set a time that you’ll have a decision by and stick to it.
9. Express your gratitude
Perhaps most importantly, once you have reached a conclusion, thank them for taking the time to consider your proposal, whether or not you got the result you wanted. Your employer will be much more willing to have these discussions with you in future if you make it a comfortable and positive experience for all involved.