Salary Negotiations

Salary negotiation is an important aspect of any job situation, and is often perceived as the trickiest part. Most common doubts raised are "Is it safe for me to negotiate a salary without jeopardising my chances of getting a job?" and "When and how do I negotiate my salary?".

As you will be relocating to the Caribbean on acceptance of the job offer, there is absolutely no point going through the entire process, if you are unable to afford to live comfartably once you are there. As an ambitious job seeker, you should not only have an idea of your "value" within your field and an estimate of what you could expect to be paid in that career in the country you wish to relocate to - but additionally, you should have done research on the cost of living there too.

It is advised that you do a financial plan before even starting your job search, so that you know in advance what salary you should be aiming for to live as comfartably as you wish in that country. So, when the job offer comes, you have a foundation based on research and knowledge - and a starting point for the negotiations.

The situation in which a salary is negotiated could vary depending on whether the individual is a candidate with a certain degree of work experience, applying for a position in a company, or is a candidate with no prior work experience, applying for an entry level position in an organisation. Another situation could be an employee looking for career advancement in his current organisation - just in a different location. The details of each of these situations might be different, however certain basic principles and rules regarding salary negotiation remain the same.

In this article, we provide broad guidelines on how to negotiate a salary when applying for a new job.

  • A salary should be negotiated if you perceive the offer is inadequate
  • The first question to be answered is "Should a salary be negotiated at all?". The answer to this is - Yes, if the offer made is inadequate in your view. To arrive at that, it is important that you, the candidate, applying for the job, do your homework in terms of knowing the salary range for similar positions in other organisations within the same industry, and across industries but within the same functional area.

    For example, when applying for the job of a brand manager in a food company, you need to be aware of the salary range as a brand manager in marketing in other organisations across industries i.e food, cosmetics, detergents etc. That is find out the likely salary for similar positions in your field. Most reputable corporations offer a standard salary for a type of job. You, as a job applicant, need to find out what that rate is.

    Do not enter into a salary negotiation for an ego kick to see how far you can go in raising your price with an organisation, especially if the offer they make is within the salary range for that particular position. For first time recruits just starting out in their careers, it is important to communicate that you are more interested in the job where you can prove yourself and contribute to the organisation, rather than in a specific salary. The organisation, in any case, would probably have a certain number of jobs in definite salary brackets. Recruiters also may get put off if they perceive that the candidate is too salary-focussed !
  • Discuss salary only after you have received the job offer
    The next question that comes to mind regarding salary negotiations is when to negotiate a salary. Should it be done during the interview for example, when the interviewers ask the interviewee " Would you like to ask us any questions?". Or should it be left to a later date?

    The answer here is that unless you know or have some indication that you are going to receive the job offer, salary negotiations are irrelevant. Salary negotiations, during the interview or at any time before the interviewers have decided to select you, will only create a negative impression.

    There is a saying in sales that you should never discuss price before you have established value. This applies to job situations as well. Unless the prospective buyer (employer in this case) is convinced that you provide a suitable match for their job profile/requirements, any salary discussion is meaningless.

    It is better to postpone discussion of the salary till as late in the selection process as is possible. In the meantime try and present the value you offer to the employer and understand the requirements of the position so that you can arrive at a figure or a range for an acceptable salary. This will allow you to negotiate salary later on, meaningfully, once you receive the job offer.

  • Use the problem-solving approach in your negotiation
    Once you have received the job offer take some time to think over it. Use this time to prepare for the negotiation process.
  • List out the issues to be discussed or negotiated
    These could be for example, the structure of your salary package and the amounts under each head, benefits such as health, housing, leave, bonus, retirement benefits etc.
  • Set your priorities
    Decide on your minimum requirements i.e. the conditions which need to be met for you to accept the offer. Think about what you are willing to trade off. You will need to do this to be able to appear flexible in your negotiation otherwise you may scare away the employer with too much aggression and rigidity. Remember the employer could still withdraw the job offer, so be cautious.
  • List criteria to justify your stand
    To give you a high probability of succeeding in your negotiation, you need to set criteria to appear objective in your requests. It is better for the organisation to realise that your concerns are based on real needs and comparable industry standards instead of arbitrary demands for higher remuneration.
  • Be aware of your strengths
    This could help you gain confidence during the process of negotiation. If the organisation really needs you, highlighting your strengths and achievements will put you in a better bargaining position to get the employers to consider your requests seriously. Remember that your request should be based on what you can do for the organisation and what you are worth. This could also re-iterate to the employer that your profile and theirs provide an appropriate match.
  • Follow your own style of negotiation
    Appear objective and balanced. Do not get too aggressive because you should not scare the employer away! Unless you have some alternative firm offer, it is advisable to negotiate in a flexible manner.
  • Try to be in a win-win situation
    Use this problem-solving approach to arrive at a win-win situation at the end of the salary negotiation process. Look for a solution where you and the employer benefit, instead of a zero-sum situation where you win/I lose or the other way around. Look for common platforms even though the issues might appear conflicting. If your expectations are reasonable it should ensure success in your negotiations and leave all parties concerned feeling satisfied about recruiting you.
  • Use your tone of voice / body language to communicate enthusiasm for the job
    On the day of the negotiation, show your pleasure at receiving the job offer. Clarify aspects that you need to and highlight your concerns/reservations. Yet, let your body language express your enthusiasm and eagerness for the job and the organisation.
  • Confirm the final offer
    Once the negotiation process is over, repeat the final offer as you understood it. And express your intention to formally accept as soon as you receive the final offer letter. If you are not going to accept, be tactful and diplomatic on the reasons why. Send a letter also regretting that things did not work out. In a nutshell, leave a positive impression of yourself.
  • Once you have put these guidelines into practice, BEST OF LUCK!

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