Salary negotiations are a vital step when taking up a new job, evaluating your current role, and asking for a raise.

Your wage will say a lot about how a company values your work and also how you do, too. Quantifying your efforts into concrete figures takes more than gut feeling and instinct; there are many factors to consider so you can work out your value.

It’s one thing to know your worth but another to achieve the take-home pay you deserve. Don’t forget, around 70% of managers expect salary negotiations, and the average increase is 7% for those that barter.

Here are some tips to help your work be recognized financially and how to look objectively and understand why you were, or weren’t, given extra.

What Is a Salary Negotiation?

Salary negotiations take place with potential or current employers. It’s good to think of your salary as a package. Salaries cover everything from the hard money such as wage, pension, and shares, to benefits such as paid time off, flexible working hours and home working.

Employers have clear ideas of how to reward current or potential recruits. Still, they have flexibility built into negotiations to attract and keep the best talent. You need to know the strength of your cards to ensure you play your hand well.

Here are some top tips to prepare for salary negotiations for your current or potential roles.

Top Tips for Salary Negotiations

Preparation is key to any salary negotiation. Follow these recommendations, and you’ll have a much better understanding of how to navigate and control the bargaining process.

1. Know Your Role’s Value

Research is your ally; how can you agree to something’s value if you don’t know what it is at the start?

First, use job recruitment sites or your recruitment agency to learn about your role’s national average wage and your location. See what similar companies in the area pay, and write down the minimum and maximum wage band.

Second, work out your worth. List your experience, education, career length, achievements, awards, licences, and so forth, everything that means you add value to the role. Place yourself realistically within the wage band you set earlier.

With those figures in mind, put your salary demand at the top of your range and also set the bar as low as you want, or can afford, to go. However, never agree to a wage that doesn’t reward your input or value your work — don’t undersell yourself.

2. Think About Your New Salary’s Impact and Implications

Achieving a higher salary could mean more responsibilities, tasks, and pressure. Small firms may require even additional commitment if you stretch their budgets.

Would a new role challenge you more? Has your current employer given you lots of great feedback recently? Have you hit your targets?

You are telling your new or current employer that you are capable of or have already achieved these heights when you enter a salary negotiation. Would a higher wage disturb the office atmosphere? Don’t be surprised if your employer asks you to complete a task to earn a reward.

You may also realise that you have outgrown your current company and need to look elsewhere or move to a city with higher wages.

3. It’s Not All About the Bottom Line

Think about what is important to you as part of your research into salaries and benefits; rewards come in many forms. Some firms may offer shares, a better pension, or bonuses. Would those suit your targets?

Other plusses come in working conditions and even location. Perhaps you could get a move to the head office in a major city? Be flexible, and ask questions about benefits. Training courses show a willingness to learn and improve; perhaps the company can foot the bill?

Relocation costs can be built into salaries through travel, driving expenses, and commuting time. Think about how your wage and job location may change your lifestyle.

4. Practice Your Salary Negotiation Skills

If knowledge is power, rehearsals will give you salary negotiation superpowers. Discussing your salary is best face-to-face, and always with lots of preparation.

Practice negotiation skills with a friend or family — you may not be used to bargaining, but recruiters and managers are, so you need to get sharp. They will ask tough questions to understand your motivations.

Be confident so that it instils confidence in your abilities. Come across as grateful for the opportunity to discuss your role yet not fawning or subservient. Use stories to showcase your skills and achievements, giving practical examples to back up your talents. Make a plan with various answers to situations and potential questions.

Always remain honest and keep calm. Expect tricky questions, such as: Is the company your first choice? Will you accept the job immediately if your wage demands are met? Are you considering offers from other companies?

Be prepared to ask a few questions of your own. Can you negotiate benefits apart from salary? Does the company need more information from you to make a decision? Does the position’s budget reflect its importance? These questions show interest in the job while moving your discussion forward.

Ask your employer for feedback about your negotiation, even if you don’t get your raise, as this shows a willingness to learn.

5. Timing Is Everything in Salary Negotiations

You want your manager or recruiter to be relaxed and focused on your salary negotiation. Early afternoons are better than mornings because they will be settled into their workday. Later in the week is optimal as people look to tie up loose ends in their working week.

If you are looking at a new role, negotiate your salary after an employment offer has been made. Schedule a meeting if you feel the pay and benefits package doesn’t match your experience and expectations.

If you ask your current employer for a raise, use career milestones — a completed project or course, an award, or extra responsibilities — to justify your request. Perhaps your work helped the company hit its targets. Ask about your employer’s expectations and how you can help realise them.

And always remember, this is a negotiation. Walk away if you do not reach a mutually acceptable deal — no deal is better than a bad deal.

6. Review and Learn From Every Negotiation

Practical negotiation skills may come naturally to some and perhaps need to be learned by others. Bargaining will help you learn to plan, argue, listen, persuade, and recognise your value.

Remember to ask for feedback on any unsuccessful negotiation, building your communication abilities further and showing how you wish to unlock your potential.

Remain positive and confident in yourself and keep an eye on your sector’s pay brackets. You never know when you’ll need your salary negotiation skills, so it pays to keep them sharp.