So you’ve reached the end of the interview process, and with any luck you’ve managed to do so without disclosing your salary hopes (I’ll talk about how to do that some other time). You’ve been made an offer but it’s not right. Time to negotiate.
There’s plenty to say about how to negotiate a salary but for now I just want to cover one aspect. the three numbers you need to be clear on before you start talking turkey.
These are your Minimum, Acceptable and Desired figures.
The Minimum is your walk away point. If you can’t get the package to this point, you are simply not going to take the job. This figure is arrived at through hard calculation and softer feelings. The hard calculation bit is simply the minimum amount you need to live on. The softer stuff has to do with self-esteem. You don’t want to work for an amount that you know does not respect your capability and market worth. Together these will give you the Minimum. If you are offered this amount, and everything else is acceptable, you’re going to accept the offer because it’s the best you can do. Be sure it is, and that you are not going to resent it later.
The Acceptable figure is the package value that you would have assessed as about right – you would expect an employer to offer something around this figure. It doesn’t excite you and it doesn’t show great enthusiasm for you on the part of the employer, but it’s not an insult. If this is the opening offer, see it as that, and something to negotiate from. Here’s where you can talk about the added value you offer; what makes you an above average candidate. tell them that this is an acceptable salary for an average candidate, but you have more to offer, and draw their attention to some of your relevant achievements to drive your point home. After all, you really want them to pay you…
…your Desired figure. This is the amount that is at the top end of the realistic range and is for the best candidates. When they ask you for your salary expectations this is the number you’ll give them (when the time is right). If you think you’re in a particularly strong position, you might even ask for more in the first instance so that you end up somewhere around this number.
Never ever disclose your minimum, walk away point number, keep the conversation around your desired figure, and when it comes to ranges, give one that is half way between your acceptable and desired as the low end of the range, with the desired figure 2/3 of the way between the lower and upper ends of the range. So, for example, if your acceptable figure is £50,000 p.a, and your desired figure is £62,000, the range should be something like £56,000 to £65,000.
They won’t laugh at you, but if they do just ask them politely to suggest a figure they think is reasonable. They will be concerned not to be laughed at themselves, and are likely to offer you a pleasing sum.