Understandably, many people find discussing salaries uncomfortable and embarrassing during an interview.

However, most interviewers expect some bartering and, if it motivates you to put more into the job, it is worthwhile for both the applicant and the employer. A starting salary must result in a win-win situation.

CV Library reported in January 2022 that 3 in 5 UK professionals are unhappy with their current salary.

Despite this, the majority (54.6%) of respondents stated they had never tried to negotiate for a higher salary. 51% feared it would risk losing their job, while 40% replied that they didn’t want to be seen as too pushy and 31% saying they didn’t know how to negotiate. 29% of respondents said they were even less likely to ask for more money in 2021 than they were before the arrival of COVID-19. However, the landscape has change with record numbers of job postings in the last six months and confidence among the UK workforce has grown as we enter 2022.

Be sure that you know what you’re worth and what you can bring to the business. This may not necessarily equate to a pay rise – you may be considering a side-ways move or step down to take your skills into a new area or to achieve a better work/home life balance. The key to negotiation is to be prepared.

1 - Know your value

Prior to the interview, research the company and salary range for the position you are applying for. Conduct a salary research so you can understand your market value by:

• Comparing salaries in job adverts – remember different locations might attract higher or lower wages
• Speak to your Recruitment Consultant who should have access to up to date benchmarking data. Sammons Pensions undertakes an Annual Salary Survey to ensure they maintain wide-ranging and up to date information on the market.

2 - Say as little as possible

An interviewer will want to discuss salary as early as possible so they do not waste time with someone they cannot afford. They may also like to dwell on your past salary, in order to keep your salary expectations low. You need to delay the talk of salary as long as possible until you can convince them that you are the person they need. So:

• Avoiding discussing salary until you have a job offer. If you do, you could price yourself out of a job.

• Get the employer to disclose salary before you do.

• Do not disclose past salary. If pushed for a figure, you could say, ‘but of course, I wouldn’t accept that figure at today’s rate of pay’ or ‘but I took that lower wage in lieu of training’. Alternatively, ensure you include the entire value of the package that you received – not just the basic salary.

• If pressed by the interviewers about desired salary, try ‘What kind of salary range are you working with?’ or ‘I’d like to make as much as other employees with my qualifications’ or ‘What is a typical salary for this position?’ or ‘Until I learn more about the responsibilities I cannot make a meaningful suggestion, but will consider a reasonable offer’. Another strategy is name a pay range instead.

3 - Sell your skills

Be ready to talk about the skills and accomplishments that support the value you consider yourself to have.

Establish your target salary and absolute bottom line

Before you go into an interview, decide what salary you want to earn and what you are willing to settle for. Be prepared to justify your thought process, just because for example, you have a longer train journey, that may not be a reasonable justification for a higher salary.

However if your current role is based locally, this may impact on your current earnings. A role based in a major City will typically command a higher salary.

Don’t be afraid to add extras into your wish list during the negotiation phase – you can then drop these if necessary to appear flexible.

Take into account the whole package

When presented with an offer, consider the entire package which could include:
• Basic pay
• Bonuses
• Company car
• Gym membership
• Shares/stock options
• Health plan
• Pension scheme
• Maternity/paternity allowances
• Life/health insurance
• Travel allowances and cost of traveling to work
• Meal reimbursement/discounts
• Clothing allowance
• Holiday allowance
• Other staff discount schemes
• Training provision/discount schemes
• Frequent flier/hotel points saving schemes
• Working hours/flexible working/working from home options

There can be a wide discrepancy between a basic salary and the value of the total package – so ensure you are seeing the complete picture.

Make the negotiation a friendly experience

Make the employer feel that you are on the same side, working together to find a package to satisfy everyone’s needs. Don’t tell one company about another offer that you have that’s higher paying, unless they ask what other offers you have had.

Give yourself thinking time

Be enthusiastic and appreciative when you receive a job offer but unless you are 100% comfortable with everything discussed it is worth asking for 24 hours to respond. This will allow you thinking time in case anything occurs to you after the adrenalin of the meeting.

So, you didn’t get the offer you want – what now?

Remember, your recruitment consultant is on hand to manage negotiations on your behalf. Make sure you’ve discussed with your salary expectations with your recruitment consultant so that they can talk through their understanding of what is a reasonable salary to expect.

If you do not feel comfortable discussing salary during the interview process you can respond with “I’m seeking a competitive starting salary in line with my experience/the responsibilities attached to this role” and then your recruitment consultant can take over the salary negotiations on your behalf.

If the basic salary rate is strictly non-negotiable, try to achieve an increased amount in other bonuses or perks in the non-salary category. These might include a hiring bonus or relocation package, training that allows you to climb the earning ladder more quickly, extra holiday or a guarantee of promoting you after achieving certain milestones. Some people focus exclusively on salary when there may be other opportunities on offer that are far more valuable.

If you cannot negotiate a salary that you are happy with and you feel you need to decline the offer, do so on the best of terms. Treat every offer graciously, and don’t burn bridges with potential business contacts.

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