ArticlesThought Leadership

HR Matters: Salary Negotiation

By 21 December 2015 No Comments

Book review: ‘Salary Negotiation 101’: A special report from Business Management Daily

This book provides comprehensive, step by step guidance on negotiating a pay rise in a straightforward and encouraging manner. It is a useful tool for potential employees negotiating a job offer, new employees or seasoned veterans who have been with their employers for a number of years. What is brilliant about the book is that it outlines all the common adversities you may encounter in salary negotiation and provides ways to deal with them.

In this review, each section (Preparation, Negotiation, Objections and Job Offer Negotiation) will be discussed in full to enable you to learn and practise the art of salary negotiation.

Section 1: Do your Homework

Before going into a boardroom or an appointment with your manager to negotiate a raise, you should already know your worth.

Know your market value

This initial step is vital as it sets the tone for your salary negotiation. You should also document that you are worthy of a raise. This can be in the form of the activities you did to improve the overall team performance or that you have exceeded your targets for the year.

Do research on salaries in your profession or job title in your geographic area or your industry. In many cases, this information can be gathered through your professional network, trade associations and professional organisations. You can also look at the various surveys online for your profession and check employment ads.

Be aware of salary and raise ceilings

It could be that your organisation has implemented a pay freeze or imposed a maximum percentage for any annual increase. If so, know the figures before the negotiation. You can still proceed knowing this information if you can demonstrate that you have taken on many duties and enjoy a good working relationship with your boss. They may be willing to advocate upper management to appoint a pay raise for you that exceeds your organisation’s

Section 2: Negotiating the Raise

  • Get down to business quickly: Your manager should be aware that this appointment is for your salary raise negotiation through your appointment request so you should start straight away.
  • Start with a point you can both agree on: You should also document that you are worthy of a raise. This can be in the forms of the activities you did to the overall team performance, increase in sales, or that you have exceeded your targets for the year.
  • Present a solid record of your accomplishments and offer documentation: Point out your specific track record and your value to the firm, evidenced in complimentary letters or emails and other forms of recognition from customers, co-workers or supervisors.
  • Keep your tone positive and control your body language: It is easy to be sidetracked from your positive manner at the start of the negotiation if your manager starts disagreeing that you deserve a raise or simply stating that the organisation’s policy and/or financial situation does not permit it.
  • Present your raise as a win-win situation. You’ve demonstrated your professionalism; more money will help inspire you to devote even more energy and enthusiasm to your work. Again, focus the discussion on your past performance and the commitment you have demonstrated to your manager and the organisation.
  • Wait until your manager has finished making their point and remain silent. Silence allows you and your manager to digest what has been said and to consider the direction the conversation should take.
  • Name a figure without waiting for your manager to take the lead: Be aware of any salary ceilings, but aim high. Any documentation you have about comparative salaries in other organizations can support your case.
  • Repeat facts if necessary: You can reiterate your accomplishments and how they add value to the company.
  • Don’t take the first offer: You may be happy that your manager offers a raise at all but don’t be afraid to aim higher. If the offer is not enough, say so and wait for the next offer.
  • End on a positive note: If you are leaving the session with a raise in hand, ask when it will become effective. If you have not been so successful, ask when you and your boss can discuss the issue again: in three months, six months?

Section 3: Dealing with Objections

Learn how to count the four most common objections you’re likely to hear from an employer:

Objection 1: “A raise would put you above your job category maximum.”

Advice: If you’re doing outstanding work, point to your industry’s pay scale. Don’t compare your pay to others in your company. Cite salaries for comparable positions elsewhere. You can get a good idea of the numbers by consulting job ads, headhunters, business associates and career centres. Knowing—and letting the higher-ups know—what you’re worth on the outside can help increase your value on the inside.

Objection 2: “You already earn more than anyone else in the department.”

Advice: Here’s how you should frame your reply: “I may be making more than the rest, but don’t you agree that if I work more effectively and accomplish more, I should be paid more?”

Objection 3: “The company has had a bad year.”

Advice: If that’s true, you probably should be happy with a small raise. But it doesn’t hurt to dig deeper if your performance is good. Ask when things are expected to turn around, and if they do what impact that will have on salaries. Faced with an ironclad ban, ask about rewards in other forms—for example, more vacation time or flexible hours.

Objection 4: “I’d like to give you more money, but odds are a raise won’t be approved.”

Advice: Coming after you’ve just listed your accomplishments, this answer signals an unbridgeable gap for now. So ask your boss to outline specifically what you have to do to get a bigger raise. Then establish a timetable for evaluation.

Section 4: How to Secure the Best Pay Package


As in any negotiation, if you don’t ask for something, you won’t get it. Come prepared to make plenty of proposals that involve more than pay. For example: extra vacation time (while many companies have strict vacation policies, recruiters sometimes toss in more generous “unpaid leave” if prodded) and telecommuting options (some companies will consent to this only if you explain convincingly why it will enhance your performance).

Cite facts to uphold your position

Research what other workers at your level earn at companies in the same industry with a similar size and revenue base. Most employers crave this information. They want to know that they’re paying the going rate for top talent, and they may not always know about changes in market conditions.

Many recruiting firms maintain databases of salary information that they might share if asked. Also check job listings, and contact companies that don’t list a salary range in the employment ad to learn what the job pays.

Emphasise your job-switching expenses

Most employers adhere to the unwritten hiring rule of “making whole,” which means they don’t want new employees to make financial sacrifices or shoulder new expenses upon accepting a new position. (The exception, of course, is when you deliberately apply for a lower-level position to restart your career on a different path.) If you’re relocating, you can negotiate more aggressively because recruiting managers understand all the costs and hassles that you’ll face. For example, you may want to arrange for your new employer to pay for a few round-trip plane tickets so that you can revisit your former hometown and tie together loose ends after the initial move.

Bend your rules

If your salary demand is above the present range the employer is willing to offer, don’t be discouraged. You can ask for a sign-on bonus or “special grants”, referring to lump-sum payments that employers agree to make in addition to standard compensation. You can also ask for more unpaid leave or other flexible benefits such as plane tickets to visit relatives.

Draw the line

If you feel strongly about receiving certain benefits from the outset, let the company know. Spell out your minimum needs so that you can establish a minimum requirement from which to negotiate later. You might explain that your health benefits must match, if not exceed, the generous insurance you currently receive. By identifying such non-negotiable points early, you can enter the final stages of agreeing to a pay package without having to waste time or energy on the big looming issues.

Time your demands

Don’t reel off all your requests at once. If you rush into things, you may overwhelm your potential employer and come across as greedy and self-centred. After clarifying what you absolutely must have to consider a job change, then concentrate on selling yourself as a desirable candidate during every stage of the interview process. As you approach the final round of interviews and prepare for your response to the official job offer, that’s when the nitty-gritty negotiation with the senior hiring executive or the head of human resources will take place.

Listen for openings

You can learn much about an employer’s willingness to negotiate by the words the hiring manager uses when making you an offer. Never interrupt or rush to answer when the person finally gets down to discussing the details of your pay and benefits. Pay attention as he or she explains how the company arrived at your compensation. Listen to invitation cues to talk such as you can learn much about an employer’s willingness to negotiate by the words the hiring manager uses when making you an offer. It is OK to negotiate for even better terms.