Der Standard – 11.09.2021
Talking is silver,silence is gold-the best time for salary negotiations
Anyone who must negotiate a salary, whether in an existing company or when changing jobs to another company, naturally wonders when and whether one should ideally talk about salary expectations.
The clear tip in advance – in any case, you must actively address the topic and not just wait for what the current or future employer offers you in terms of salary. And if you do it right then you send a clear signal that you are the right person for the position. Whenever you simply accepts everything you are offered you do not seem very convincing. And which company wants an employee who is not courageously defending the topics that are important to her? This assertiveness can be wonderfully demonstrated in these conversations.
Addressing the topic – yes, but when? When you apply to a new company, you are often called either by a search company or the company’s recruiting department and asked which salary expectations you have. And that’s exactly when the negotiation begins – but NOT by naming your salary expectations on the phone or online before you even know whether you fit to the respective company. No, on the contrary, it starts with simply answering that you expect a market-relevant salary and that you look forward to the conversation to find out together whether you are the right candidate for the company. If you must give a number nevertheless – perhaps because the online system does not allow you to go on without any further input, then you should either specify a range in which the lowest value corresponds to the median of the job offered or consciously set the highest value of the possible salary range as an anchor. Why? – because companies very rarely pay more than necessary and are not afraid to bring a lower than the required salary into play. If you have thoroughly researched your market value and can argue your performance for the company accordingly, you do not have to worry about being too demanding.
Even in the existing job, you do not simply burst out your salary expectations, but fix an appointment of aboutonehour withthesupervisor. Tell them you want totalkaboutyourprofessionaldevelopmentinthecompany.
Whenshouldthisinterviewtakeplace:ingoodtimebeforethenext salary adjustmentroundinthecompanyandideallywhenyoucandemonstratethe added valueyou have already achieved foryourcompany or are about to offer – underline your ideas with facts and figures.
A Strategicapproachandadoseofpatiencewhenitcomes tosalary increasesalwayspayoff.
In the interview with the new employer, you can position yourself as their future employee by asking relevant questions about the area of your responsibility, emphasizing your knowledge, experience, and fresh new ideas and thus demonstrating to the new company how you will commit yourself to the new tasks and drive forward their topics.
In the existing company, you prepare yourself thoroughly by highlighting the benefits you brought to the position beyond your normal job description during the last six to twelve months. And regarding your future contributions, you could present for example how you will optimize the corporate processes. Make sure your superiors confirm to which extent your suggestions coincide with their ideas. Actively address the fact that you are ready to take on the next higher responsibility and ask which steps you still have to take, and which time frame seems realistic.
In smaller companies, there may not be another career level, but you might be able to lead a new project which is important for the company. This also justifies an increase in the total remuneration – perhaps not in the basic salary but through a higher bonus.
Could you seem outrageous? Often you might be afraid to be considered tedious if you ask all these questions – but as so often in life: it’s not what you say but how you say it and open questions only show that you are ready to integrate as quickly as possible and that you really want to be a long-term partner.
In case you are already an employee, these questions demonstrate your commitment and that you want to further grow within the existing company.
If you are worried that you might seem too bold with your questions, please consider whether you would rather go to a doctor who asks as many questions as possible before she prescribes a therapy?
Both, in the job interview with the new company or during the meeting in your existing company, there may be a second or third round before it comes to the salary and other contractual details. After all, both sides want to be sure that they fit together for this important next step.
Closing the deal or getting the promotion
When the company – not unexpectedly – decides to hire this highly committed candidate or promote this highly involved employee, it’s not surprising anymore that this person can demand a 5-10% higher salary above the market median and one or the other benefit on top.
In case you still need to learn a lot for the new position, then the starting salary might be below the market median, but you can most likely make sure that the date and amount of the next salary increase will already be written in your new contract.
One thing is certain, what you negotiate now and contractually stipulate right before starting the job is much easier to achieve than subsequent demands: even with internal promotions, verbal agreements on contract, salary and any social benefits must be recorded in writing – even if they may only become effective after a certain period of time.
After working as Head of Human Resources at Erste Bank, Martina Ernst founded the salary consulting firm www.salarynegotiations.at.
She currently serves as President of the WU Executive Academy Female Leaders Network with 1500 alumnae and is career partner, lecturer and member of the international advisory board of WU Executive Academy.