Salary Negotiation Playbooks:

  • How to negotiate a higher salary before starting a new job
  • How to negotiate a higher salary at your current job

Playbook 1: How to negotiate a higher salary before starting a new job

1.1. Know what the average salary rate is for the job

  • Before starting your job search, you need to be certain of your market value. Gather salary data from Glassdoor, Payscale.com, and Salary.com.
  • Review job descriptions on Indeed and LinkedIn Jobs to see what your target companies are paying, and look at their competitors too. 
  • Talk to recruiters and people working in the industry on LinkedIn.
  • During your research it’s important to note that salaries can vary due to the following factors:
    • Location (due to living costs in the area).
    • Company size.
    • Experience level.
    • Educational background.
    • Specialised knowledge/skills.
  • Have a 'walk away' number. Enter the salary discussion knowing the absolute minimum you are willing to accept.

1.2. Getting asked about your salary expectations

1.3. Show them you're in demand

  • If you are asked to give a number, preface your answer by reiterating the reasons why you want to join the company and that you are flexible and open to discussion (this is to avoid pricing yourself out of the job if your salary expectations are beyond the company's budget).
  • When you give your answer, provide a range. Make sure the lower salary range is a figure that you would be happy to accept, as the hiring manager will likely lock on to this number. 

“I am being considered for opportunities in the range of €40,000 and €50,000. How does that compare to the range of this position?"

  • This answer shows you are in demand and that the range you are providing is based on what other employers are offering.
  • If they counter with a lower number which you know is below market rate, there's no harm in asking how the company landed on that number.

“I would just like to know where that number is coming from?”

  • After they respond, and if you feel that their estimations are off and unjustified, counter with the following statement:

“Like I said, I’m really excited at the prospect of joining your team because [Discuss how you will bring value to the team and achieve their biggest objectives + why you want to work at the company], is there any way we can make up the difference, as that is the number that I feel comfortable with to bring 100% of myself to work every day.”

1.4. Reframe your salary expectations as an investment

Here's another effective response to use when asked about your salary expectations early in the hiring process:

"I want to first preface my answer by stating I am certainly flexible and open to discussion.

Now, as detailed in the job specification, my main objective in this role will be to do [XYZ].

I am very confident I can execute on these deliverables given my verifiable track record while working at [Past Company] where, under similar circumstances, I did [X] to achieve [Y].

Based on the goals outlined, coupled with my relevant skills and experience in the role of [Job Title], along with reviewing the average market rate for a [Job Title] role, the total compensation I would be seeking is in the range of €[Number] and €[Number].

How does that compare to the range of this position?"

1.5. Negotiating your salary based on the employer's objectives - after you've been lowballed.

  • This approach is similar to the method above, but focuses on the challenges the employer has discussed with you.
  • Early during the interview, I recommend asking the hiring manager:

“Fast forward 12 months from today. What would have to happen for this hire to be an overwhelming success?”

  • The interviewer will detail some big goals that will generate revenue for the company.
  • Whatever goal they mention, keep it in your back pocket.
    • During the salary negotiations, you can reframe your salary as an investment to achieve their defined goal. Tie your role to the company’s strategic goals.
    • Based on the company achieving the goal in 12-months' time, paying you an extra 5K -10k will be peanuts for them.

The structure for your salary increase request:

  • Start off by referencing the goal the company wants you to achieve.
  • Detail how you have achieved similar results in your previous role, or draw on experience that demonstrates your ability to achieve the goal.
  • End by detailing how the company will benefit financially from your work, and for those reasons, you want an increase on their original salary offer.

Example negotiation pitch

"As you mentioned earlier, my main objective in this role will be to get XYZ Company’s client base to 300 users. 

This goal is something I am very confident I can not only reach but exceed, given my verifiable track record while working at ABC Company, where, under similar circumstances, I led the sales department to a record-breaking 30% increase in company profit over an 8-month period. 

Bearing all that in mind and with my projected targets set to generate an additional €XXX,XXX for your company by 2023, your salary offer of €45,000 is a solid number that we can work from.

How can we bring it to €50,000?”

1.6. Alternative options

  • If the employer is unwilling to budge, another option you can take is to join the company on the basis that a salary increase review will take place in 6-months' time.
    • For the salary review, make an agreement that your pay will increase by a specific amount based on you reaching transparent objectives.
    • This option alleviates any risk from the employer’s side. 

1.7. Negotiating benefits

  • It may also be worth trying to negotiate benefits if a salary raise isn't on the cards. Of course, this entirely depends on your own situation, but here are some benefits that may help sweeten the deal for you:
    • Paid Time Off
    • Bonuses
    • Sign-on Bonus
    • Commission
    • Profit Share
    • Flexi-time
    • Work From Home Options
    • Education: Certifications / Professional Training
    • Healthcare / Wellness / Dental Care
    • Equipment: Company Phone / Laptop / Vehicle
  • If the company can’t give you what you want, could you work fewer hours? Offer to provide so much value that the company would be willing to agree to your terms.

1.8. What to remember before negotiating your salary

  • The company is expecting you to counter their salary offer.
    • Their initial offer is to get the conversation started.
    • ALWAYS ASSUME THERE IS ROOM TO NEGOTIATE.
  • Don’t give a specific salary amount so you have room to negotiate.
  • If the salary offered is too low, respond with grace. You don’t want to make it a war, nobody will win.
  • Don’t forget to smile throughout the discussion. It’s disarming and will help break up any tension.
  • The company paying you an extra 10 - 15% means nothing to them and everything to you.
  • You should have no doubts about asking for more money or benefits, regardless of what they first offer you.
  • Have a 'walk-away' number.
  • Even if you are happy with the offer, don’t be afraid to ask for a little bit more. They can always say no and you can shake their hand and accept the offer.
  • When accepting a new job, I encourage you to negotiate an automatic 10% raise at the end of each year BEFORE accepting the job. If the employer doesn't think you've earned it when the time comes, let them come to you to explain why. You can accept it, or quit, but the burden is now on the employer, not you.
  • Practice negotiating with your friends/family. You will be far more comfortable when it comes to game day.
  • Make sure you get everything in writing.

1.9. Working with recruiters

  • If you get asked about salary expectations, follow the script outlined above in section 1.4.
  • Create a team dynamic with the recruiter:
    • Remember that the recruiter gets paid a commission if you are hired. So reframe the salary conversation by asking them “What do you think we can get?”
    • Another strategy is to tell the recruiter your current salary but state that you feel really underpaid and you need their help getting the number up.

1.10. Moving to a new sector

  • If you decide to make a career change, you may need to take a temporary dip in your earnings.
  • To set yourself up for a salary raise in 6-months' time to get your earnings back to where they were previously or higher, try having the following conversation after the company has made you an offer:

“A salary of €XX,XXX is certainly a fair share of risk and reward for both parties considering I’m coming from a new sector, but I’d love to have a 6-month review documented as part of the offer letter, so we can review my progress and if this goes well, and I’m confident it will, that we can bring my salary back to what I’ve been earning in the past.”

  • This strategy will require you to detail your previous salary so that it can be worked into the agreement.
  • Make sure you have measurable objectives in your role before making the agreement.
    • With well-defined goals, you can execute on the agreed-upon targets and in 6-months' time, you will be set up to receive a pay increase.

Playbook 2: How to negotiate a higher salary at your current job

2.1. Know your worth

  • Before asking for more money, you need to discover if you are being underpaid.
    • Gather data from GlassdoorPayscale.comSalary.com, and research job descriptions that match your level of responsibility.
    • If you have taken on additional duties at work, it's likely you are doing the job of an employee who is senior to you. Let's say I'm a retail assistant, but over time, I have taken on the duties of a store supervisor. What I should do in preparation for my salary raise request, is review the market salary rate for a store supervisor, and use that data to back up my claim of deserving a pay rise.  
    • It’s also worth looking at what competitors are paying.

2.2. Schedule a one-to-one meeting with your manager and layout your case

  • Open up the conversation by stating you are happy and committed to the company:

“I’ve been at the company for nearly two years now, and I’m really enjoying my work."

  • Then discuss what extra duties you've taken on and detail your most notable accomplishments:

“I am grateful for the opportunities you’ve given me. Like taking ownership of the employee training program. And things are going really well in those areas. Last month we exceeded our target of recruiting 3 new software engineers.”

  • Now bring up data that confirms you’re being underpaid, and include a %:

“But one thing I'd like to discuss with you is my compensation. With the additional responsibilities I've taken on since starting at the company, it appears that I am being underpaid. From doing research online, here is what I found. After pulling information from Glassdoor, Salary.com and Payscale.com, someone with my level of experience, and the role I’m operating in, should be paid 15% more."

  • Reiterate that you are dedicated to the company, but you only want what’s fair for both parties:

“As I said, I’m loving the projects I’m working on and I’m excited about what’s ahead, but we need to make an adjustment so there is a fair number for both of us here.”

  • If your employer is unable to budge on the salary, it may be worthwhile trying to negotiate on benefits, such as:
    • Paid Time Off
    • Bonuses
    • Commission
    • Profit Share
    • Flexi-time
    • Work From Home Options
    • Education: Certifications / Professional Training
    • Healthcare / Wellness / Dental Care
    • Equipment: Company Phone / Laptop / Vehicle
  • Regardless of how the conversation went, end by thanking your manager for their time. Later that day, send them a follow-up email that recaps your reasons for asking for a raise and include a summary of the conversation you had.

2.3. Pro-tip

  • Throughout your pitch, avoid words that undercut your position, such as: believe, feel, think, just, only, might.
    • These words can make it seem that you are not feeling confident or sure — and if you convey uncertainty, your manager may become uncertain too.
  • Go into this conversation knowing that you deserve a raise and communicate your confidence with strong words that leave little room for negotiation.

2.4. How to land a salary raise in 6-months' time

  • To get a raise in your current job:
    • You need to ask your boss what they want from you.
    • You need to tell them what you want from them.
  • The first step is to set up a meeting with your boss and discuss your current role and ambitions for the future.
    • Open up the conversation by referencing what you’re currently working on and how progress is coming along.
    • Next, you want to discuss how you can improve in certain areas of your work in order to become a top performer. Ask your boss:

“What would I have to achieve in my role to be considered a top performer?”

  • Now your boss may give you a pretty vague answer as they’re not prepared. What you need to do is have defined objectives prepared in advance of the meeting - goals that you know would really impress your boss if they were achieved.

“I was thinking about it, and what if I was to achieve X, Y, and Z in 6-months' from now? I know that timeframe may seem quite soon, but I certainly think it’s doable.”

  • Your boss is naturally going to respond positively to your plans. Now you need to drop the ball.

“I’ll begin executing on X, Y and Z immediately, and of course, I will keep you updated on my progress each month. Now one other thing I wish to discuss, is that if I am to achieve X, Y and Z in 6-months' time, would it be possible to sit down and have a conversation around a salary increase?"

  • Your boss will be delighted and should have no hesitation about your proposition.
    • However, it’s important that you have a written account of the agreement. Send an email to your boss later that day which outlines your proposal and clearly states that a salary review will take place in 6-months' time.
  • You now have your roadmap to getting a salary increase in 6-months' time.
  • The next step will be to begin executing on the agreed-upon objectives and recording everything you do.
  • Use this reporting template to track your progress.
    • Documenting your work is very important and will make the negotiation discussion a straightforward process.
  • When recording your progress, do your best to quantify everything you’ve done. Numbers leave less room for debate.
  • Send an update to your boss every couple of weeks so they won't be surprised.
  • After a 3-month period, set up another meeting with your boss to show the progress you’ve made so far, and request feedback. You want to know that you’re on track, plus your boss may recommend improvements.
  • A month before the salary review meeting, ask a colleague to send a quick update to your boss on any of your recent results or achievements. Social proof will only help your case for a raise.
  • The week before your salary raise meeting, role-play how the discussion will go. Ask a friend or family member to help you.
  • Prepare to respond to a variety of scenarios. Your boss may come back with:

“It’s just not in the budget at the moment.”

“Let’s talk about this another time.”

“I didn't agree to give you a raise.”

  • Within your responses, reference the date on which you and your boss agreed that a salary raise discussion would be arranged based on you reaching the achieved objectives.
  • To back up your case for a raise, reference the average market rate for someone performing your duties. Review multiple sources: GlassdoorPayscale.comSalary.com and look over job descriptions that match your level of responsibility.
  • Mention that you plan on continuing to not only reach but exceed all expectations in your role and that you’re committed to the company, but you want to be compensated fairly.

Remember:

  • If your boss is still unwilling to give you a raise, you should seriously consider leaving for another company.
    • Sometimes, the quickest way to get a salary raise or a promotion is to move to a new company.
    • It’s also far easier to get a new job while you're already employed.
  • Your hard work will not be in vain. What you achieved within those 6-months is all the evidence you need to show your future employer that you’re a top performer and deserve to be compensated accordingly.

Now, go get the money you deserve.

Best of luck my friend 🍀

Paddy Jobsman

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