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Career ABC

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Negotiating salary

Salary is an integral part of your work and the amount of money earned is one of the key factors that influence the choice of job. It is worth reflecting upon if and to what extent you can persuade your prospective employer to give you a higher salary. The negotiation certainly would not be easy. It requires both good arguments and the right attitude during the talk. This is also the case when a person who is already employed is renegotiating his or her salary with the employer.

Salary negotiation ABC

How to prepare to the talk:

  • gather information about the general job market situation in a given sector
  • find out what the company's overall situation is like (finance, external economic situation, challenges, problems)
  • make a list of your performance, achievements and successes to date in the company
  • prepare your negotiation strategy (goals and acceptable compromises)

During the conversation:

  • emphasise your strenghts related to the job (experience, qualifications, achievements)
  • present your expectations clearly
  • listen actively
  • adapt your arguments to your interlocutor
  • react flexibly to the changing situation during the negotiation

Things to avoid:

  • coming to an interview unprepared
  • fraternizing or unfriendly behaviour towards the interlocutor
  • being too self-confident or too conciliatory
  • referring to your difficult situation
  • talking about how much exactly you expect to earn: it is much better to say about an acceptable salary range, which gives you greater flexibility and shows your good will

Preparation based on knowledge and facts

It is advisable to know how much people holding similar posts in other companies or sectors earn. Thanks to such data we will have access to objective information about the salary market. Earning rankings useful to both employers and employees are published in newspapers and the Internet.

You can also access databases of various salary market monitoring agencies. Another possible option is to directly ask colleagues from your workplace or from other companies.


When negotiating the salary, your prospective employer mainly pays attention to your qualifications (their abundance or uniqueness on the job market), your experience and achievements. The salary is dependent not only from the post, but also from the tasks you will be faced with, the scope of your duties, or the number of your subordinates.

During an interview, you should try to learn as much as possible about your prospective job. You should also take into account the development opportunities (training, courses) that the company can provide you with. If your interlocutor is interested in your salary expectations you should be flexible and indicate a salary range that would be acceptable to you. You may also tell him or her your lowest acceptable salary, equivalent to a mean salary in a given sector.  You can also ask about the mean salary of the people employed in the company doing similar jobs. It is not advisable to be too exact about the salary, since it gives you very little room for manoeuvre.


When to enter into negotiations? When you know that the final assessment is coming close and profit and loss analysis is going to be done, this is the time to negotiate. On the other hand, when the salary is determined periodically, you should produce a list of your achievements

Besides the preparation based on knowledge and facts, negotiations require adopting a certain strategy. It is better not to act on the spot. Before talks, you should determine your:

  1. Maximal goal (the highest level of your expectations)
  2. Optimal goal (the optimal, satisfactory level)
  3. Minimal goal (the acceptable minimum)

Of course this is only a model: there are many in-between levels. It should be noted that it is important to be ready to modify the needs you present during negotiations. It is advisable to have an alternative proposal, such as e.g. a request for a company car, or a fuel, phone or laptop refund. You should be as flexible as possible.

There are many possible negotiation scenarios. When re-negotiating employment conditions, you should consider what kind of person you are going to talk to. Think about his or her character features and his or her approach to the staff. Different bosses value different qualifications and achievements. This knowledge should help you decide which of your character features, achievements or duties you should emphasize. If your job is a very responsible one, you can point to the disproportion between the earnings and the risk you take when making decisions. Another very important factor is the status of your interlocutor. He or she should have the authority to make binding decisions.

During the talk, you have to think in the long term. You cannot let your negotiation failure affect the atmosphere at your workplace. Being too persistent can be counterproductive. Self confidence is important, but you need to be ready to compromise. Interpersonal skills are among the features most valued by employers. Salary negotiations are an opportunity to demonstrate such skills to your employer.

When justifying your position, you should first of all focus on "professional" arguments, that is on your experience and qualifications, without resorting to "personal" arguments. An employer is obliged to treat all employees equally. Additional profits, benefits or awards should result from your extraordinary qualifications or achievements. Using "personal" arguments can be viewed as questioning your employer's position or competence.

How to behave during the meeting

It is of great importance how you behave, both when applying for new job and when renegotiating your salary. Your appearance, way of speaking and body language can considerably influence the result of the meeting. Your behaviour should be neither fraternizing nor unfriendly. It is essential to keep eye contact. In general, you ought to behave in a calm and balanced way. If you are unsure what to think of a certain issue or proposal, take your time and give your answer after some consideration. This makes you look sensible and reasonable. You should be neither too self-confident nor submissive.

When renegotiating your salary you have to bear in mind that in is your whole "career in a certain workplace that matters. The amount of money earned is a result of both your achievements and your failures. What is important, is the attitude towards work: conscientiousness, accuracy and reliability. You should make as good an impression on your superior as possible, both in professional (by performing your duties well) and personal terms (by being well-mannered, friendly towards colleagues etc.). It is crucial to be well prepared to the negotiations, since good preparation often means success.