November 25, 2020

Salary negotiation tactics: do you need it?

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By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

The topic of this article is something with which every employer and an employee comes across sooner rather than later. It sends chills down your spine just thinking about the creeping anxiety coming to light in an event in which you have to discuss your salary in any shape or form. It can be quite overwhelming to remain calm in a situation which revolves around social dynamics, your character as well as potential opposing authority which puts food on your table and inevitably finances your existential situation. Let’s put this into a hypothetical scenario in which Peter gets the dreaded question “What kind of financial package are you expecting?” (or something along those lines) during the interview. Now, Peter didn’t prepare himself for that question so he didn’t really know what kind of numbers to put out and at the same time remain perfectly in balance in terms of salary brackets as well as hiring manager’s view of him. On one hand, he knew what he wanted in general, but he wasn’t sure if that’s too high or too low between the salary brackets and on the other, he didn’t know if his experience can back up those numbers. He was in the dark. Combine that with the fact that his experience in the field was mediocre and he didn’t exude that much self-confidence, you get a probable disappointment if he ever gets an offer from that employer. Here’s an example of negotiating a salary with your current employer. Alice knows that the company which she works for doesn’t exactly throw out bonuses on a whim and she’s been working for the company for over two years dishing out exemplary performance. The problem that she has is the fact that she likes to work there, is aware of values and the assets she is bringing to the company but at the same time she doesn’t want to risk it because she knows everyone is replaceable, especially in a renowned company. So what does she do? She asks for something that isn’t enough to satisfy her needs but is just enough to bump up her ego and keep the employer satisfied. In the end, she stays frustrated and dissatisfied.

The important things to consider in both of those scenarios is that they weren’t properly prepared for a discussion which will determine how the employer and an employee will interact with one another in quite a few ways. They didn’t plan ahead and prepare themselves with enough information which would justify what they’re looking for. What would be the proper (and hopefully) effective way of handling this without any salary negotiation tactics?


Money talks.

Salary in job interviews

What every candidate should do before any job interview is do research on the position they’re applying for. The job responsibilities, skills, competencies, needed experience, potential progress within the company, benefits included in the package etc., all these things affect the salary range of a position and that is something everyone should be familiar with if they want to land a job on their terms. The next step in arming an arsenal of useful info is the general salary range on the labor market for that specific position. Most companies with advanced HR track the salary range benchmark in general because that gives them more information on how to effectively run their business. The salary range benchmark usually has correlated info about the experience needed so in your mind, you can practically deduce what the optimal number for you would be (if the company in question goes by that principle). So let’s recap:

  • Position info
  • Benchmark salary range
  • Needed experience

There is no tactics here, just plain information available if you want to plan and prepare well ahead.

One thing to note is to never bring up the salary question before the hiring manager does. They will mention it on their own when they’re ready and once they do, lay out the number you have in mind supported by the above info you have. If Peter knew that info, he would’ve been far more confident in stating the number he wants with provided justification.


A prime motivator.

Salary in a current company

Similar to job interviews, negotiating the salary in a current job position can sometimes be easier and sometimes harder than anything else in that arc of a story. Why could it be easy? If someone like Alice has a good performance and assuming her behavior falls in line with the culture of the company, it’s easy to present that as fact during that conversation. All the argument you need is there and a good company wouldn’t be disappointed by bringing that up. Alice was afraid of how the company would react so there isn’t too much to say about them following the culture of financial development. Why could it be hard? It can be really hard if you’re working in a bit of laissez-faire style, there’s no micromanagement involved and most of your work is done but not seen throughout the workplace. Sure, numbers tell a story, but if your line manager is the sensing type and wants to visually see your progress and yet doesn’t, it can be hard to prove your development without statistics. There’s another issue if a company has an autocratic management style in which the top manager holds all the power and brings decisions but doesn’t know the true worth of a front line employee in which case talking to their line manager wouldn’t bring them anywhere. The best thing one can do is present the numbers which directly show the performance needed to bump up that salary number and act/live the culture that the company is marketing. The rest is out of your control.

One thing to keep in mind which Alice didn’t think of is emotions. This is essentially a monetary transaction. You’re selling your services to the employer again but for a higher price because your experience and performance improved your worth. One shouldn’t think about how an employer would feel about that, they rarely care about your feelings anyway. At the end of the day, you will come to an agreement presenting fact, or you won’t. Bringing emotions to the table can’t have a good outcome so it’s best to avoid it even if that can be quite hard sometimes.

Takeaway

As you can see, using the word “tactics” is a bit of a reach in these situations. There is no real tactic other than being prepared and armed with information which will construct your plan on how to lead the flow of the conversation in finally negotiating that salary you want. Oftentimes even that won’t work because hiring managers and employers are people too which means that these types of situations can have fickle outcomes. This is the best way to handle this but if it doesn’t work on one, it will eventually work on other. Do you have any more tactics to use? Please let me know in the comments!