Last month I wrote about the great resignation and explained how to work out if you should join in, or stay put. Whether you decide to ‘stick’ or ‘twist’, being equipped to handle salary negotiations will be very important. If you twist then you will have to negotiate a salary with a new employer; if you are happy to stick with your current employer then you may want to negotiate a pay rise.
If you fall into either of these categories, read on:
Before entering into salary negotiations, you need to get your ducks in a row and work out your need, deserve and want salary figures.
Let’s look at the ‘need’ figure: This is the most important number and it is not just what you need to simply survive. This figure should obviously be enough to cover your bills and living expenses but to also fund what you need to live the life that you want to live (within reason…). It would cover a holiday or two, regular takeaways and some splurges on some of the nicer things in life.
The next step is to calculate your ‘deserve’ figure: This is based on what you know of family and friend’s salaries, the industry and the current employment environment because many employers are paying more at the moment. The fact that 100,000 people aren’t coming back to our industry means there are a lot more opportunities out there. So, you need to consider what do I deserve? What should I be getting paid? What is the number that would make me happy?
The ‘want’ number is the moon-shot: This is the shoot for the stars level of figure and it should be high because you can always negotiate down. The want number has to be sensible though, it can’t be completely out of reach because you shouldn’t price yourself out of the market by going over the top.
Once you have decided these figures then they will then create your salary bracket, but you have to allow some wriggle room. If your need figure is £50k then your bracket should be £50k to £60k, you have your need figure as your lower bracket because you need that wiggle room and will always hit the need figure whilst generally getting more. Your bracket should be around £10k.
Never ever tell someone what your current salary is; it’s none of their business. If you are ever asked, then simply respond with “could you let me know why that’s important?” If they push you, then it says more about their culture and values than any website or mission statement you’re going to read. Let’s be honest, the reason they want to know is because they want to label you. I only stopped asking for salary info about a year ago. I stopped asking because the gender gap and the ethnicity gap are very real, and because people in our industry don’t know what they’re worth. Why should whether you’ve been badly paid in the past have any impact on what you’re paid in the future?
That said, a future employer will need to know your salary expectations so you should offer them a bracket. Salaries come up pretty early in the interviewing process and usually before you’ve really got to grips with what the job will entail. By giving a bracket you give yourself some leeway to adapt your expectations as you get to know more about the role. If you said you wanted £60k and the job is actually a £70k role then its very hard to get it back up.
You HAVE to know what the salary is before agreeing to any interview. You could ask “What is the budget for this role because I don’t want to waste your time in case I’m too low or too high?” They will have set aside a budget and somewhere, internally, a number has been written off on a P&L. If somebody still won’t give you salary numbers, red flags should start appearing.
Some people may say that it is a job seekers market at the moment but I can’t stand that phrase and attitude. It’s always a people-driven market.
Quality Vs quantity
Remember, it’s not just about salary; your quality of life matters just as much as the quantity you’re being paid. Money’s very important but maybe you’d rather have an extra week’s holiday more than a couple of grand extra a year? Maybe you’d rather that your pension contribution was a couple of percent more?
Many companies may currently struggle to offer more money, or they simply won’t pay more because other people are doing the same role for less (that’s a conversation for another day…). So, the package is where you can gain the extras you deserve – as long as your salary covers the need figure you have.
If your deserve number is £55k but your need number is £50k, and they’re offering that, then that’s where you can negotiate with them for benefits such as more holiday, truly flexible working, parental leave, pensions etc. But be conscious, 20 days holiday and autoenrollment pensions are not benefits, they are a legal requirement and I don’t know why employers try to fluff them up.
100,000 people aren’t coming back to the industry but many companies simply don’t have the revenues they had before. You have to be realistic but you can push the boundaries now more than ever.