You have your dream interview lined up. But how do you ensure that you get the best possible salary?
While the pay for junior-level positions is typically fixed, mid- to senior-level employees and managers have more flexibility to negotiate their salaries. Here are eight tips from recruiters and human-resource managers that can help improve your chances of snagging a high salary.
1. Research, research, research
To get a better salary, begin by figuring out what’s the highest you can get. “Do good homework on what are the prevailing salaries for a similar role in the industry,” says Sanjay Pandit, managing director of recruiting firm Manpower Services India.
This is easier said than done, because companies don’t exactly publish their pay scales in the newspaper.
Ask your friends or trustworthy colleagues about potential salaries for someone with your relevant experience and skills. If you are working through a recruiting company, they might be able to give you a range.
Finally, you can try using networking web sites like LinkedIn to connect with people in the field or company you are applying to, who in turn could provide you with some guidance.
It might help to dig through the annual reports of the company you are applying to and read recent news reports, in order to figure out how the company is doing financially. A larger and more successful company can afford to pay higher salaries than a smaller or struggling one.
2. Curb your eagerness
As with any negotiation, if you convey your eagerness for something, you lose your bargaining power. “Whoever shows more interest always gets less,” says Sanjay Muthal, managing director of executive search firm NuGrid Consulting Pvt. Ltd., in Mumbai.
Candidates need to strike a balance between appearing interested in the particular job, and not appearing too eager.
Mr. Muthal advises talking about macro issues such as the role you’re applying for and potential responsibilities, rather than discussing the nitty-gritty of expected pay. “If you generate a terrific impression, then salary follows,” he says.
3. Wait to be asked
Candidates should not begin the salary discussion because that makes them “come across as being too money-minded,” says Zak Parker, regional HR director of North Africa, Middle East & Southern Asia for security services firm G4S PLC.
Wait for the company to start the salary negotiation. It might help to delay the discussion till all interview rounds are over. The further along you are in the interview process, the more interested the hiring managers would be in you. That puts you in a better position to ask for a higher salary, because the manager might go back to the human resources team or the budgeting team to ask for more money for you.
4. Be honest
Sooner or later, the interviewing company will ask for your current salary. Employers now extensively use background checks to fact-check the information you give, so don’t be foolish enough to fudge your salary. “You’ll get caught very quickly and easily,” says Mr. Parker.
5. What’s the right hike?
Experts say that in the current market environment, an increase of 20% to 30% above your current salary is reasonable to ask. However, in industries or positions that have a talent shortage, such as life sciences, or even some jobs in the information-technology industry, you could get as much as double the salary. Here’s where your research will come handy.
Also, don’t be shy in asking for high salary. “Many times I’ve seen people who are very shy when it comes to salary,” says Mr. Pandit of Manpower. Sometimes candidates say “I have no expectations, you give me whatever you want…”, or “I’m sure you will take care of me,” he says.
However, these people often end up getting disappointed, and sometimes walk away at the last minute. That can hurt them in the long run, says Mr. Pandit, because “the world is small.”
6. The first discussion
If the company comes back to you with a first salary offer which is below your expectations, don’t immediately give in.
The fact that the company has made you an offer is a good sign, because it shows they really want you. Try one of the following ways to get them to increase their offer.
Start by saying something like: “I’d really like to work for you, but the financials are not really working out,” says Mr. Parker. “Is there a possibility that we can look at this again?”
You could talk about how you are happy in your current job, and the only reason you are interviewing for this position is because you are attracted to the role. You could highlight what the market value is for a person with your skills and experience, or the value you’ve brought to your current employer.
One commonly used tactic is to say that you are talking to one or two other companies for a position as well; companies can’t usually verify that.
7. Ask for perks
Often, companies have a salary range fixed for different designations, and they may not be comfortable making an exception for one employee.
In that case, you could try asking for additional perks that could help indirectly boost your salary. Companies often prefer one-time perks, such as a signing bonus or a fixed bonus, and suggest asking for a possible raise or re-evaluation within a year or less.
8. Be ready to walk away
Sometimes companies may propose to you a particular salary and say: “Take it or leave it”. Unless you are in dire need of the job, Mr. Muthal suggests walking away, though at good terms. “Nine out of ten times, you will hear back” from the company, says Mr. Muthal.