Salary discussions can be tricky. You don’t want to undersell your experience or skills, but you also don’t want to pitch yourself too high.
Proposing the right salary can be a delicate task, but there are proven ways to maximise your chances of getting the salary you’re after.
The factors that impact a salary range
“The more in-demand your skills are, the keener a hiring manager is to secure your signature,” says Andrew Brushfield, Director of Robert Half Australia. “If you are going to ask for a higher starting salary, you need to be able to explain clearly - ideally with the use of evidence and examples - why it makes sense to pay you more than the advertised rate.”
“Employers may be interested in your level of experience, qualifications and educational background, plus your ability to sell, your industry contacts and personal clients, and perhaps even your knowledge of competitors,” Brushfield says. “The more fact-based your submission is, the more likely the employer will decide to agree to your request.”
How to get the best salary result
- Be prepared
Do your research about market rates and be ready to talk about your salary requirements and why you’re asking for a particular figure or range.
The best way to work this out is to look at what people doing similar roles get paid. Many of the roles on SEEK have a salary range advertised and there are also a range of salary guides online that can act as good resources to find insights into the latest salary benchmarks and trends.
“Arm yourself with information by surveying friends in your industry and checking out salary guides to assess your market rate,” says Brushfield. “If you do your research, you'll be better equipped to negotiate.”
Before you talk money, Brushfield recommends putting yourself in an employer's shoes. “If you wait until you have proved your value as a serious prospect, you're likely to get the best result,” he says.
- Give a range
If you’re asked to propose a salary, don’t mention a specific figure. Draw on your research and instead give a preferred salary range. “A range doesn’t lock you into a concrete figure,” says Brushfield. “You want to leave some flexibility to negotiate if the employer’s offer is below your expectations.”
- Be realistic
While it can be tempting to aim high when suggesting a salary, it’s important to be reasonable. “If you’re negotiating a higher starting salary you could jeopardise your position altogether, with the job going to someone else,” says Brushfield. “You also need to be wary of pricing yourself out of the market for new jobs.”
- Consider other incentives
Salary is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of a remuneration package, but also consider alternative or additional workplace incentives you’d be open to accepting. “Perks, such as flexible work hours, additional leave and professional development opportunities are in demand by employees,” says Brushfield. Think about what benefits you would like and what this may be worth.
- Pick your time
Interviewing for a new position is the obvious time to discuss salary expectations, but for current employees, opportunities can also occur during performance reviews or at the conclusion of big projects. “Give concrete examples of why you deserve a higher salary, such as how your actions have benefitted the company and what the results of your efforts are,” says Brushfield. “If you can prove your impact on the business's bottom line, the chances of securing a higher salary will improve.”
Discussing money and salary expectations is never easy, but doing your research about what similar roles are paying, preparing thoroughly for salary discussions and considering what alternative benefits you may accept is crucial to having a successful salary conversation.