Business Woman Media: The art of negotiating salary during the job interview

In a recent article featured in Business Woman Media, Michelle offers her tips on how to negotiate your salary during a job interview.

Most people don’t like talking about money, and so negotiating the starting salary for a new role is something many people dread. However, when you shy away from negotiating you are walking away from lots of potential upsides: increased pay, more flexible working hours and other employment benefits.

Knowing how to ask for what you want is a critical skill, particularly when you consider the pay disparity between men and women. With a bit of planning and strategizing, asking for what your worth doesn’t need to be hard.

Here’s five tips to get you started.

1. Do your homework

You need to know the going rates in the industry, so you can understand whether your salary package request is above or in line with the market.

Various job sites and job boards (eg Seek, Hays, Glassdoor) and LinkedIn provide data on salary ranges for roles and professions.  The Fair Work Ombudsman website also has details on award rates, penalty rates so if you are on an award you can see the pay scales.

Use those as a starting point for understanding the low and high range for your potential role.

It also helps to talk with people in the same industry or role, as well as professional membership bodies as they can provide insights into what’s possible and reasonable.   You don’t want to go too high, nor do you want to pitch your rate too low.

2. Seek leverage

It’s the basic economic law of supply and demand.  If there are lots of people with the same technical and professional skills and demand is low, wages can be squeezed.

In contrast, if you are working in a sector, industry or profession that is in demand and there is a short supply of people to fill those roles you’ll have greater bargaining power when it comes to negotiating salary and working conditions.

For example, it’s estimated Australia will have a shortfall of 60,000 skilled workers in the ICT sector in the next five years.  As well, the Royal Commission into Financial Services has created huge demand for risk, compliance and governance professionals.

As part of this, get clear on the value you will bring to the role, how you demonstrate that value and why the organisation will benefit from hiring you.  This becomes important evidence and data you can use to back your claim.

3. Look at the package

Remember, it’s not just about pay!

When you are negotiating you need to consider the whole package of benefits which may include: flexible working; annual leave; ability to get unpaid leave; and other incentives.  So, look at the total package – not just the salary dollar figure – when you are preparing for the conversation.

4. Establish your trade-offs

Pay negotiations involve compromise. Consequently, you need to know when to push and when to yield.  It’s hard to do this is you are not clear on your boundaries or what matters the most to you, and therefore what you may be willing to give up as part of the negotiation process.

For example, if you are negotiating working conditions you may be willing to trade off money for flexibility, or money for extra holidays.

5. Remain emotionally detached

Often in pay negotiations it is a case of ‘don’t ask – don’t get’.  Consequently, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself for the conversation so you are ready to make the ask.

To not be afraid to ask for what you want, consider:

  • Practicing slowing your mind down so that it doesn’t over-react to unexpected comments or outcomes during the conversation. This is where meditation and mindfulness techniques can really help
  • Not getting too attached to any desired outcome, because that can lock you into a position resulting in you coming across as inflexible during the process.  If you are too inflexible, it may cause the employer to hire another candidate