Working Adults: 5 Effective Ways to Negotiate Your Salary

Last Updated on August 13, 2021

If you’re a fresh graduate navigating an interview for your first job, negotiating your salary will likely be one of the biggest hurdles you may face. How do you measure your worth in numbers, or push for higher pay?

Negotiating your salary is tricky work, for sure. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier as you move from one job to the next. These useful tips could steer you in the right direction, but remember: no advice is one size fits all, so go into bargaining your salary with an open mind.

1. Research the average wages in your industry

It’s important to know your worth. To start, do some groundwork before stating your expected salary. Check the Glassdoor pages of companies in your industry, or make an appointment with a career advisor at Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Careers Connect Centre. Asking friends in the industry for a salary range is a good idea, too.

If you aren’t a first-time job applicant, most companies are willing to offer a salary increment of between 10% to 20%.

Which brings us to this: could you opt to leave out your last-drawn salary altogether?

Despite Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo’s recent comments on how job-seekers aren’t required to declare their last-drawn salaries when applying for new roles, the fact remains that most employers would prefer to know — simply to determine if your practical experience matches up to your asking pay.

2. Be humble, but don’t undermine your abilities

If there’s one trait most employers would appreciate, it’s humility. A positive, humble candidate would naturally be more likeable than an arrogant, pushy candidate.

If you’ve been offered a job with a less than satisfactory salary, try negotiating by again drawing on your work experiences. Perhaps highlight a project you initiated during a recent internship, or how you contributed to a company’s growth in some way.

And if things don’t work out, don’t burn the bridge before it’s been built.

Express your openness to future positions — and always view job interviews and the negotiation process as an opportunity to hone your skills.

3. Meet halfway

Let’s say you actually, genuinely want a job, but the offered salary falls far below the mark. How should you then straddle this tricky predicament? You could attempt to meet halfway by asking about full-time employment benefits, which might include everything from annual leave, dental and wellness benefits to conditional stock options.

Alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt to propose a salary review after achieving a certain milestone — whether passing your probation, or something slightly more ambitious, such as growing a website’s organic traffic by 20% within the first six months.

Bargaining chips like these are a good compromise, and give you and the company breathing room to prove your worth.

4. Ask for some time to weigh your options

Here’s the other thing: you should know your worth, and therefore not sell yourself short. If you aren’t sure about the job or offered salary altogether, it’s perfectly okay to ask for two to three working days before making a decision.

Be sure to also discuss career progression opportunities. Employers generally wouldn’t offer a fixed timeframe for promotions, since these are very much pegged to your performance in the workplace.

Promotions are also often dependent on the type of company you’re looking to work for. Larger corporations tend to have a more structured hierarchy of roles, so you might expect a promotion from Executive to Senior Executive, for instance.

Conversely, start-ups generally run on a flatter structure, so promotions could include moving you to a different vertical altogether — such as being promoted from Content Strategist to Product Marketing Manager.

5. Determine what’s most important to you.

At the end of the day, salary isn’t everything. But that depends on what you value most in a job — or what you think might keep you going. Many factors come into play here: are company culture, career progression and the work itself more important to you than your monthly paycheque?

If it’s the latter that you care about most, set yourself a base salary — or the lowest possible sum you’d accept from a company — and negotiate your case. If push comes to shove, and working for less simply isn’t your style, then be prepared to walk away.

Politely decline the offer with a response such as : “After great consideration and thought, I’ve decided to turn down the opportunity to work for [insert company name].” It shows consideration for the company’s time, and is an effective way of closing a chapter on good terms.

Negotiating your salary is never easy, but arming yourself with these tips could set you up for better pay — so good luck! Be sure to also manage your money with these 5 important personal finance rules, and figure out how much to set aside using this emergency fund calculator.

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