Dos and Don’ts for Salary Negotiation

Thoughts like what if the next candidate settles for less? I need this job real bad so let me just say yes to whatever’s offered plague you even as you iron that brand new suit you’re planning to wear on your first day and mom sends you out with tilak dahi-shakkar (sweet yoghurt) and a hug wishing you all the best.

With that in mind, here are some salary negotiation dos and don’ts for you:

Boom! Six months into the job you learn that you could have gotten a much better pay package. What went wrong?

Know what you are negotiating for

Apart from the envelope in which you carry your check – or cash – home, there are many more benefits that employers offer their employees. Remember that you are not just here to do a job. You are offering your time, efforts, and intellect to your employer. In exchange you can expect more than mere money.  Taken together this is called an employee benefits package.

Before you go in for negotiations, do your research on what other employers are offering for a similar post to candidates who are roughly on par with you. Then go through that list carefully and determine your own priorities so that you know what to insist upon and what you can let go.

Look Out!

Besides negotiating salary, you’ll also be signing an employment contract. You should know what to expect in this employment contract. Some of the things to look out for apart from the regular job-scope and benefits are –

  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy
  • NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement)
  • NCA (No-Compete Agreement)
  • Scope of work including working hours
  • Company privacy policy – not just with respect to your own personal data but the restrictions it places on you as an employee.
  • Performance expectations and requirements
  • Conditions for termination
  • Specific requirements, provisions, or restrictions

Elements of employment contract – What you should look out for

Be Prepared

As we said you should do your research before you head to your new office for the first time to “discuss salary and complete documentation.” Hopefully this article-series takes care of that but if you feel something is missing let us know. Go in with all the data at your fingertips – preferably memorized but if not readily available on your phone – perhaps both. You should be familiar enough with the data you have gathered to be able to get the point at a glance so that you are not reading lengthy texts as you sit before the company executive.

Negotiate the Package

Remember you are not negotiating just your salary. Salary and benefits package are not synonymous. Employment benefits are much more than merely your basic pay, travel allowance, and gratuity. There are other benefits like the facility to work from home, paternity leave, and insurance along with other perks like gym reimbursement, paid vacations, and free up-skilling to consider. When you discuss with the HR manager consider all these things before you put a price to your service.

Be Presentable and Confident

Don’t overkill either with your outfit or accessories to the extent that you are not at ease – because that’s extremely important. If you don’t come across as confident, you’ll lose out going in and things can quickly spiral downhill from there. Dress formally in whatever you are comfortable with. For instance, if you’ve never worn a suit or sari before, don’t try it out now. It’s ok to use bright colours but don’t be flashy.

Be Polite

This one is extremely important. Even when the discussion heats up, you should never raise your voice or resort to foul language. Always speak quietly addressing others respectfully as Sir or Mam.  Try and begin your sentences on a positive note. Instead of saying I do not agree say Yes but I beg to differ. Remember your first impression will remain fresh for a long time to come, making it hard for you to settle in.

Even if you give in to everything they say you may not be hired if they ultimately don’t like you as a person.

Offer Value

Your skillset and qualification are not the only things you bring – or should bring – to the table. You should show your potential employer what value you hold for the company. For instance, you may be a pro at Java Script – which you interviewed for – but if you also know PHP and are willing to help your team it raises your chances several notches. Devoting extra time, commitment to work and deadlines, going the extra mile, and an attitude of helpfulness are some of the qualities that will endear you to your potential employer.

Be approachable

Give them the freedom to ask any questions they like and let them know clearly if not explicitly that you are available to start work immediately. You need not lie about it though. If you have to serve your notice period or need a break to spend time with your new-born, let your potential employer know upfront. During discussions talk in an open and frank manner letting them know that you are approachable and transparent in your discussions.

Know your Negotiator

Remember that the person sitting across the table is an individual just like you with his own quirks, qualities, misgivings and limitations. Knowing who that person is and what role he or she plays in the organization can help you make spot decisions about what to say – or not. For instance your potential boss or team leader will have a far more technical perspective as compared to the head of HR. So while you address the actual negotiations to the HR head, you should pitch your value to the team leader who will benefit directly from it.

If push comes to shove, it’s better to have your potential boss on your team because ultimately he’s the one who probably holds the casting vote. What say you?

Know their limitations

They like you. They even think you deserve all you are asking for. And still they will not give it to you. That’s because they are working on a budget and within a defined scope. Understanding this scope will help you decide what you can let go – because you know you won’t get it any way – and score a point on cooperation. For instance, if the company is hiring 10 sales persons and there’s only so much to go around, they may not be able to offer you much in terms of money – but they may be willing to reward your stellar performance and offer you the flexibility of working from home.

Be Ready for the Tough Ones

Despite all the research, tips and tricks, there’ll always be a couple or three curve balls that you must deal with. Questions like what other offers are you considering and would you be willing to wait a week or fortnight before we decide are tough calls. You’re never sure which way to answer because you don’t know what they want to hear. One rule of thumb is never to lie outright. For instance if you do not have any offers under consideration say so. Diplomacy doesn’t work here. Nor do vague answers.

Of course you don’t want to lose your advantage but then if you say take it or leave it, they (employers) might just leave it – and you’ll be pounding the proverbial pavement again.

The point we are trying to make is be prepared for such questions and decide ahead of time which way you want to answer.

Read Between the Lines

Sometimes a question may have a hidden agenda. Other times what seems like a trick question may actually be a simple one. Take your time considering the intent behind the question before you answer. Try to get a sense of the reasoning and intent behind the question. For instance, when he asks about other offers you are considering or your previous salary, it may not necessarily be a negotiating gimmick but simply a way to understand your thought process. If you are unsure, simply be honest. Don’t lie or give a smart answer that avoids the question. This usually does not go down well.

It’s Ok to Ask

This is a discussion not a sermon or lecture where on person speaks and the other nods – or shakes – his head.  Treat it that way. Yes it is important to patiently hear what the hiring manager has to say before you open your mouth – but open it you should. You can place your phone discretely at a place where you can see your notes and relate them to what is being offered. Then mentally determine how you should respond to each point. When the hiring manager asks “Do you have any questions” it’s your cue to pitch your proposition.

Not only is it ok to ask questions and state your side of the discussion, it’s perfectly ok to ask if you can have some time to think it over too. Only don’t take too long doing this. Don’t use it as a gimmick to buy time while you consider other offers. They won’t call you again to ask before they hire the next best candidate. Or will they?

Keep it Open

Even when you make your exit on a “we’ll see” note, remember that the door is not quite shut. Remember that the next candidate may not give an inch making you seem like the better choice even if they give in to your demands.

When an employer says no to a candidate it just means no based on what was discussed today. Things can change on either side.

Maybe the offer you banked on when putting your foot down fell through and you are now willing to accede to their demands. Conversely, they may not find a better candidate.

On a final note bear in mind that while you are negotiating salary and benefits; ultimately it is the job that matters. If you strongly feel this is an organization in which you would love to work, it’s ok to let go of a few things in exchange for job satisfaction. After all, you’ll be spending almost a third of your working life here.

Armed with these salary negotiation tips, give yourself a pat on the back for completing the test cracking the interview and go discuss your benefits package with confidence.

Meanwhile, we’ll continue to bring you more information. Make sure you get the latest in your email inbox so that you don’t waste time surfing the net. For the weekends join us on Facebook for some chatter.

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