Before we go any further on this subject, just remember:
“DON’T FREAK OUT……… and BREEEEEATHE!!!”…
OK, so now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s think seriously about why the subject matter of “salary” is almost guaranteed to make your palms all sweaty, your heart beat faster and your tongue get tied? Simply put, it’s because the majority of us know 2 things:
1) That we’re at the pointy end of the process and therefore, we’re in the hunt for a job offer.
2) That by getting the salary negotiations wrong, that we might completely stuff up our opportunity of getting the job or alternatively, that we might miss out on that extra few $$$ that enable us to go on a nice holiday/buy a new car/pay our rent/etc.
In my opinion, salary negotiations tend to make us nervous for one main reason: FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out! We want to feel valued and suitably remunerated for the work that we are going to undertake and as much as we all say “it’s not about the money”, the reality is that happiness and satisfaction does not pay the rent or feed the kids! COLD-HARD-CASH does!!!
So with all of this in mind, here’s some advice that may (or may not) assist you with your next salary negotiations…
The Time To Think About Negotiating Is When:
You’ve been offered the job…
Ideally this should be in the form of a written offer, but a verbal offer under the right circumstances is also OK. There is absolutely no point in negotiating prior to the time of an offer as ultimately you don’t even know if you’re going to be offered the position and therefore why frighten the employer off before you get the job?
My Dad always said to me, “the purpose of a job interview is to be offered the job. Once you’ve been offered the job, YOU can decide whether or not to accept it”. It’s advice that has served me well over the years as it provided me the patience to hold out until I was playing from a position of ‘power’……….once you’ve been offered the job, you know that the employer WANTS you, so that is when the power has switched from them, to you. This said, it doesn’t mean that you can afford to abuse that power by being disrespectful to or inconsiderate of their needs and budgets!
If the offer is not quite what you were expecting, now is the time to put together a supported and well thought out counter offer. By supported, I mean a counter offer that you are able to articulate and demonstrate that you are worth with reasoning and examples of what you bring to the table!
You can articulate & demonstrate your value to the (new) organisation…
Key to this part of the process is that you understand the following: as much as the $$$ are personal to YOU (rent, petrol, food, private school fees, etc. etc), the amount the company is going to pay out is personal to THEM (budgets, parity amongst peers, market constraints, competition). In other words, BOTH parties are approaching this from a selfish perspective. With this in mind, instead of making salary negotiations about YOU…
“I need an extra $5,000pa because I’ll be paying tolls to get to work and my petrol will go up by 50 bucks a week”, make it about THEM…
“My previous two roles demonstrate how through some advanced marketing techniques such as <blah, blah, blah>, I have added over $50,000 to the bottom line of those organisations. With some minor tweaks, this is something that I am confident that I would be able to achieve for you, so would you please consider an extra $5,000pa which would greatly assist me to meet my financial obligations?”
You need to demonstrate why you’re worth more $$$ and the value that you bring to the table that will make their additional investment in you worthwhile. And always keep in the back of your mind the acronym: WIIFT – What’s In It For THEM? The “THEM” being the employer! If you approach your negotiations from THEIR point of view, you have a far greater chance of providing them with the information that they require to be convinced to pay you that little bit more!
You know YOUR worth and the VALUE of the job…
The old saying “Beggars can’t be choosers” comes to mind here because there are times when for whatever reason, an income is better than “no” income and so rather than rock the boat, you need to accept whatever offer is placed in front of you, even if you think that you’ve been a bit/a lot underdone in the remuneration department!
The trouble with this is that it won’t take long until you come to resent, despise or even detest your job which is generally going to lead to a level of disassociation and lack of care. Neither of which is going to do you OR your employer any good.
So, if you think that the offer is underwhelming or it has made you cranky or annoyed, then you need to think about mounting a strong case (articulate & demonstrable) as to why you are worth more money to the organisation. Worst case scenario is that they don’t employ you – but if you weren’t going to be happy there and commenced with a chip on your shoulder, you were probably better off not being there in the first place! Again, all of this is on the proviso that everybody’s personal situation is different and only you can make that call.
(Personally, I would choose [and have] being a little disgruntled about the pay over my family starving to death. But I also made a conscious effort to be GRATEFUL to my employer for providing me with an opportunity to be able feed my family! For me, it’s all in the head – look at the positives and consciously ignore the negatives)!
You have a figure in your head that you’re not going to go beneath…
If you have a $ figure in your mind that is your lowest cut-off point and the offer comes in at or below it, then you have two options: 1) walk away or 2) negotiate.
For me personally, option number 1 isn’t even an option! Why? Simple: because by walking away you are NEVER going to get closer to a figure that you’re happy with! You’re admitting defeat without ever giving yourself a fighting chance!
So, if option 1 doesn’t exist, you’re only left with option number 2: NEGOTIATE! I personally believe that people often take the “non-option”, number 1 because they are too nervous or lack the confidence to negotiate. The irony is that even if you completely stuff up the negotiations phase and the employer knocks you back, what have you lost? If you’d walked away, you would have ended up with nothing. And if you negotiated and stuffed up and you ended up with nothing, you’re in the same spot. However, by negotiating, you’ve given yourself an OPPORTUNITY to achieve your desired figure. And surely even a 1% chance of success is better than a ZERO % chance?
So, if you’re going to decline an offer – don’t!!! NEGOTIATE. It is as simple as that!
The Time NOT to Negotiate Is When:
You’ve already said “Yes” to an offer…
Sounds obvious right? But would you believe that it is not uncommon for people to go home and sleep on it (read: chat to their significant other) and then come back and ask for more money?
Why? I think probably because with the benefit of hindsight, they’ve gone home and done the math on what it costs to live and what the new role is going to cost them to accept (additional parking/travel costs; longer hours; whatever) and so the proverbial ‘light bulb’ has gone on and they’ve suddenly realised that they can’t justify accepting the job at the figure that was offered. Other times, it’s simply because they have gone home and gotten greedy overnight because they’ve realised that they shouldn’t have taken the first offer that was put on the table.
Either way. If you’ve accepted an offer, my advice is to stick with it! You don’t want to start off a new role on the wrong foot and the last thing you need is your employer wondering from day-dot if they’ve made the wrong decision!
A final offer has been made upfront…
If you are informed that the offer on the table is the employer’s first and final offer or their best offer, then you need to think long and hard about whether or not you are willing to take the job at that rate.
A negotiation has the potential to look disrespectful and inconsiderate of their ability to pay more. However, if you’re going to feel under appreciated then you are better off thanking them and declining the role.
This point here is one of the most precarious ones in the negotiations phase as it flies in the face of one of my points above about negotiating to give yourself a 1% chance of success as opposed to walking away, thereby giving yourself a 0% chance. However, there are times when you are better off not embarrassing yourself, or the employer by simply thanking them and declining. And, at the risk of sounding somewhat philosophical – “what will be, will be”. If the stars align and you were really meant to get that job and the employer wanted you and only you, they might just come back with “something” that may not be monetary, but that might incentivise you to take the role so that you can start in the position and make/save the company so much money that they have no option other than to pay you more!
The marketplace doesn’t justify more money…
Let’s face it, there are always certain parameters around the value of a job that are inextricably linked to a range of factors that may include: budgets; market rates; the economy; unemployment rates; competition; etc; etc.
With this in mind, if you have done your research and you are a professional in this type of a role, you will know ‘roughly’ what the job is worth. So, if you can’t justify more $$$, how can the employer?
I once had a Manager tell me that they wouldn’t work for anything less than $250,000pa, but due to the state of the industry this person applying for roles in organisations that at their upper-most limit could only afford to pay in the vicinity of $70-75,000pa due to their size and annual revenue. When I approached this Manager, their response was along the lines of:
“If they are going to pay peanuts, they’re going to get monkeys and then they’ll never grow any larger”. This particular individual was so caught up in their own ego that they hadn’t stopped for long enough to consider what the EMPLOYER (you know, the one that was going to be forking out the cold hard cash) could afford.
There is pretty much always a limit on what an employer can AFFORD to pay. And if you can’t recognise that, then there’s a mismatch way before the negotiations phase even begins. Accordingly, I would suggest that you are probably unsuitable for the position in the first place. It’s one thing to be looking to take on a new role at a higher level, with a bigger salary. But it’s a whole other thing expecting an employer to pay you because of what you “believe” you are worth (and even more so if you are unable to justify, demonstrate and articulate your worth)!
Whilst the above thoughts and suggestions are based primarily on negotiations for new roles, a lot of the basic principles remain the same if you were to be negotiating a pay increase – the main focus being your ability to articulate, justify and demonstrate why you should be earning more money!
It is also always important to remember that you aren’t doing your employer any favours and more importantly, YOURSELF any favours if you remain in an organisation where you feel undervalued and under paid. If you’re not happy where you are, you have two options:
– Put Up and Shut Up (ie. stop bitching about it) OR
– Move On
And if you’re moving on, make sure that you leave without burning any bridges as you just never know where and when you might come across your employer (or someone that knows your employer) again……….Funny story: as a Manager in hospitality, I once had an employee that asked for a night shift off 2 hours before her shift was due to commence, which I knocked back as I could not find cover for her at such late notice (although I did try). She then called in sick and posted photographs of her at a party on Facebook, which resulted in me personally completing a 18 hour shift to cover her.
The next day, she turned up to work and before I could even approach her she came in to my office and started hurling abuse at me because I had been investigating her on Facebook! The amusing part of the story was that I wasn’t “friends” with her on FB and so had NOT seen the pictures of her partying the night before – but thanks to her admission, I did do some investigating and managed to obtain those photos for her file. Needless to say, she and I then had a very serious chat about her on-going employment.
The above in itself was quite amusing – but the really funny part of the story is that after storming out of my office that day of our chat screaming “I quit” along with a number of profanities that I have honestly never heard come out of a “lady’s” mouth she walked in to a retail venue in another suburb a long way from where I had worked with her, asking for a job. The new General Manager of this particular store was none other than yours truly and when I was informed of this particular person’s name, a name that I will never forget, I felt that it would be appropriate to personally accept her application. Her face was a picture…
And a very clear example why you should never burn bridges!!!