Salary negotiation for job applicants

Asking for a pay rise can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, let alone when you are a job applicant who hasn’t formally been offered the role yet. But negotiating the salary on offer is far more common than you may expect.

In this article, Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand, explains how to negotiate from the position of a job applicant in a timely and professional manner, and with supporting evidence.

Many people are unsure how to negotiate their salary from the position of job applicant rather than an existing, proven and valued employee. In fact, the main reason people can run into trouble at offer stage is usually because they are unhappy with one or more aspect/s of the offer, typically the salary, and are uncertain how to proceed.  

Time your request

A job offer is typically made verbally before a formal written offer is received. As a job applicant, this verbal offer stage is the best time to negotiate, if the employer has not already raised the issue of salary, since you are now firmly positioned as the employer’s preferred candidate.  

You may be prepared to discuss your case, but if upon receiving the offer you need to gather your thoughts, it’s perfectly acceptable to thank your recruiter or the hiring manager for the offer, affirm your enthusiasm for the role, and ask for a few hours or even one day to consider it.

Never verbally agree to an offer and then ask to negotiate the salary, or any other aspect of the role, once you have received the contract.  

Be open and professional

During your negotiations, keep the lines of communication open. Tell your recruiter or the hiring manager that you are very interested in the position, but that you would like to negotiate. Discuss openly and professionally your opinion and desired outcome – just make sure it’s realistic.

Consult a salary guide

One of the best ways to ensure your salary expectation is aligned with current market rates is to consult a recent salary guide, such as the Hays Salary Guide. Sharing the typical salary for your role from a salary guide also allows you to support your request with evidence from an expert.

You can also speak to your recruiter. Remember, here at Hays, have the professional know-how to advise you on current market trends.

In addition, if you were put forward for this job by a recruiter, she or he will also do all the negotiation on your behalf, so there’s no need to worry about this process!

Be patient

Once you have put forward your case in a professional and timely manner, you’ll need to be patient. Don’t expect an immediate response the hiring manager will need to gain approval from their own manager for any revision to an offer. But once they respond, you should accept or reject the offer as soon as possible.

If the news isn’t what you hoped for, ask what you need to do in order to receive a salary increase. If the salary on offer simply cannot be increased at this time, ask if you can agree a date for a salary review in a defined period of time, or if they would agree to tie an increase or a bonus directly to your performance.

Good luck.