Careers advice

5 crucial salary negotiation tips for your next job offer

Game face on, it's negotiation time.

Few people like talking about money, even fewer like asking for more of it.

However, as tempting as it is to accept a job the second it’s offered, you need to be happy with the salary. You fought hard to secure this role, and selling yourself short to get over the finish line will end with resentment down the line.

To prevent this happening, and to make the process easier, we’ve drawn up five must-read salary negotiation tips for your next job offer.

Going equipped with this knowledge will help you put your best foot forward, and get the salary you deserve.

Salary negotiation is all about confidence and preparation.

How to negotiate salary for a job offer

1. Know what you’re worth

You’ll probably have already answered the common job interview question, 'what are your salary expectations?’.

If so, you’ll know the salary range for the role you’re going for. This knowledge is vital to have a strong bargaining position for wage negotiations.

You can research standard industry wages by looking at other job listings, using online salary tools or speaking to trusted contacts.

Note: we used the word ‘range’ for a reason. We’ll come back to the negotiating process itself later, but it’s important that your research gives you a range, not a single figure.

2. Approach the topic professionally

Most job offers in New Zealand are given over the phone. So, if you’re feeling good about an application, it’s a good idea to prepare how you’ll bring up salary negotiation beforehand.

This is especially important if the idea of talking money makes you nervous. It’s key you broach this subject professionally and confidently.

Of course, you should first thank the hiring manager or recruiter for the opportunity, and say how excited you are about the role. Keeping the conversation polite and positive is a huge part of getting where you want.

Here are a few ways to start negotiating salary:

  • “Can I negotiate this offer?” – before you start your best marketplace haggling, it’s crucial to establish there’s room to maneuver in the first place.
  • “What is the salary for this position based on?” – open questions like this help keep the conversation moving, and can indicate whether there’s flexibility.
  • “I was wondering if we could explore a slightly higher starting salary of $X?” – naming a figure early forms a basis for negotiation, and puts the ball back in their court.

Another option is to ask for time to consider the offer.

This is a totally reasonable request, and one that most employers will respect. You can then schedule a call (usually within 48 hours) to return with your response.

Research salary bands so you can enter the negotiation equipped with facts.

3. Ask for more than you want

While you should research a range, give a single figure – the uppermost end of your scale. The range is just to give you an idea of what is reasonable, and help you decide what you’d ultimately be happy with.

Sometimes the employer will simply agree to your figure. But, more probably, you’ll end up bargaining – it’s called a salary negotiation, after all.

This is why you name the top end of your spectrum, and not the whole thing. If you do the latter, you can almost guarantee the employer will begin the process from the lower end.

It’s also why you should give a figure greater than what you want. From here, you can still afford to lose some ground and be content with the result.

4. Make your case

Confidence is key in these situations, so back up your request with examples of why you think it’s justified.

Example:

“I was wondering if we could explore a slightly higher starting salary of $65,000? I believe my experience mentoring other team members, as well as constantly hitting my own targets, means I bring a unique value to the business, which I think would be better reflected in this salary”.

It’s also important to keep the focus on your professional contribution, not personal circumstances. Other employees will have children and mortgages to fund, so these considerations are unlikely to be useful for your negotiation.

Practice your pitch beforehand to make sure you get the message across clearly and concisely. Your Trade Me Job Profile is a great tool to have handy here, as you can quickly skim your experiences and qualifications to find your best bargaining chips.

You need to have a strong case for why you think you deserve a higher salary.

5. Know when to walk away

If your prospective employer refuses to budge on their salary offer, it could be time to walk away.

This isn’t a decision to take lightly, but consider whether you’ll be happy in the role if you aren’t receiving the salary you deserve.

It’s tough to abandon an application when you’ve made it this far, but equally you’ve shown you’re a great candidate – and perhaps next time you’ll find an employer who understands the value you can bring to their operation.

What can I negotiate in a job offer apart from salary?

If you’re really keen on the role, but the salary negotiations didn’t go your way, you could try improving other parts of the offer.  Popular choices include:

  • Holiday allowance.
  • Flexible working arrangements, for a better work life balance.
  • Perks like insurance or car parking.
  • Trial periods.

Now you know how to negotiate a contract, it’s time to do that all important research. Above all, remember the business wants you, and won’t be surprised if you try to negotiate their offer. 

While this is a mutual process, you’re in a great position – so don’t be afraid  to fight for what you deserve.