Personal Finance

Five Salary Negotiation Tips for Your New Job

The job search can be challenging to navigate, especially if you've secured an offer but not your desired salary. Learn five tips to help make sure your next salary negotiation is successful.

If you are reading this article, you are likely on the salary negotiation step of your job search— congratulations! Even though salary negotiations usually occur after you've already received a job offer, they can still be challenging to navigate. Not only will you be honest and candid with your potential employer, but you will also learn a lot about the job itself.

The negotiation itself is a good opportunity for you to express your expectations to ensure that the job isn't a bad fit for you, and that it can check as many boxes as you want for yourself. Here are five tips to ensure that you can maximise your opportunities for a successful negotiation:

Research Industry Standards for Your Desired Role

The best way to inform your expectations going into a negotiation is to do your homework on your desired position and industry. This means you should study not only your own company, but also competitors' salaries and work conditions. Taking this step is crucial in your negotiation because you will understand the pay scale for the position and similar roles.

If you come prepared with this information, you can come across as responsible and willing to go the extra mile to help create better opportunities for yourself. Furthermore, you will appear to the employer as someone who does not need to take the job being offered to you. Employers are more likely to consent to your desired compensation if you, as the job-seeker, gain leverage in the job search.

However, suppose you don't get the desired outcome from your negotiation even after taking this step. In that case, you still have—at very least—the original offer as well as increased knowledge of your potential industry. You can only benefit from learning more about your industry and similar roles.

Consider all Benefits Outside of Salary

A common misconception is that your salary is the only measure of your value. This is not always true, particularly for workplaces that offer robust employee benefit programmes. As a job-seeker, you should consider your potential employer's benefits and evaluate how they match up with your personal needs.

The following table illustrates the estimated average value of commonly offered employee benefits, ranging from health care to gym memberships:

Table showing different benefit types to consider during your salary negotiation

Employers with flexible work arrangements might be more enticing to those that prioritise work-life balance. Likewise, skills training might be preferred by those who want to use the job as a stepping stone in their career. Meanwhile, the opportunity to earn a bonus can supplement your salary. You can also consider quantifiable benefits such as health insurance plans, gym and recreation memberships, travel and dining reimbursements, and additional paid leave, as supplementary to your salary.

Set an Absolute Minimum Salary

Confidence is essential to any negotiation. Your job search is no exception, and you should feel empowered at the negotiation table. If there is a salary range you deserve to earn, you should pursue to be compensated accordingly. This pursuit is especially true if you have prior work experience and a career trajectory that justify your expectation. Know your value.

If you feel that an employer's offer or unwillingness to negotiate is disrespectful to your original expectation, it may be in your best interest to walk away. Every situation is different, but there's no need to feel regret about your final decision. At the end of the day, set yourself up to feel proud of the compensation package that you are worth. An employer lowballing your compensation means that they don't recognize the value you bring to the table. A company that feels this way about your skills may not be a good fit for you anyways.

Sometimes Silence is Golden

That awkward silence you feel when a few seconds have passed since someone last spoke? It's actually not so awkward at all. According to an MIT Sloan School of Management study, moments of silence actually induce a "reflective, deliberative mindset" for the entire negotiation. Remaining calm and collected can help ensure that you and your employer think rationally about each other's desires and willing compromises.

With this in mind, it is still important to be assertive at the appropriate time. This is especially important if the offer presented to you still does not meet your expectation. You shouldn't allow intimidation or shyness to cause you to forego your right to negotiate for a better outcome.

Have the Right Mindset

A final tip for salary negotiation is to simply be positive and to stay in the right mindset! Instead of entering the negotiation expecting some sort of debate, remain resolute about what you need and feel you deserve. You should likewise view the negotiation as an overall learning experience. Prioritise learning as much as you can about the employer, its employees, and its circumstances. This better positions you to leave the negotiation with a stronger assessment of your fit and value to the role.

Seaton Huang

Seaton Huang is a Junior Research Analyst covering consumer finance products in Hong Kong. As an alumnus of Columbia University (M.A., 2020), Northeastern University (B.A., 2019), and a former Fulbright Fellow at Shaanxi Normal University (2018), he has significant academic and analytical expertise in the economic and political terrains of China, Hong Kong, and Asia Pacific. His past research has concerned the socioeconomic effects of mobile payment systems in China and the efficacy of China's Belt and Road Initiative in Central Asia, among other poignant topics in contemporary Asia.