When it comes to salary negotiations, not all positions are created equal. However, the payoff can be considerable. In a study of new graduates it was found that those who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by 7.4 percent on average.

While there can be a strong case to negotiate in most circumstances, knowing when you have greater negotiating power will increase your odds of success.

When to Negotiate

  • Not in the first interview. Your first interview is about seeing if there’s a fit for both you and the company; it’s not the right time to battle it out over benefits and holiday pay.
  • Don’t negotiate for a job you do not really want. Similarly, don’t accept an offer knowing you are likely to accept another offer. Be respectful of hiring managers; it’s ok to let them know you have another offer on the table but don’t string them along if you have no intention of accepting their offer.
  • Negotiate after a formal, written offer has been presented. Ask any questions you need answered to make a decision and then ask for 24-48 hours to think it over.

Who has Power to Negotiate?

Some situations lend themselves to having more bargaining power than others:

More Power

  • Going to a new company
  • Market shortage of your skillset
  • Employer approaches you (headhunt)
  • You have multiple offers

Less Power

  • Promotion – you still have power but not as much as moving to a new job
  • Market glut of your skillset
  • Early career
  • Unemployed

Do your research and know what average market rates are for similar positions in similar industries and geographical location. When entering negotiations, it’s best to come armed with a solid explanation of what you bring to the table and why you deserve more than the original offer.

For example, I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with your company for X, Y, Z reasons. The salary offered is a bit lower than I expected; with my A, B, C value, the number I had in mind was more like $XX.”


What to Negotiate

Don’t forget you can negotiate more than just salary. All of the below are “theoretically” negotiable:

  • Base Salary
  • Hiring bonus
  • Performance-based: bonus, commission
  • Title
  • Profit sharing
  • Equity
  • Benefits: Health and dental – waiting period
  • Vacation time
  • Start date
  • Relocation package
  • Education, training
  • Memberships
  • Flextime
  • Cell phone, laptop, car allowance
  • Who you report to

It can be easy to get caught up in debating lots of details, so only negotiate what seems reasonable and don’t sour the relationship with too much back and forth.  Try to have all your questions answered once and present your case for a better package once.


Let Your Recruiter Negotiate for You!

If you’re working with a recruitment consultant, one of the big benefits is letting them do the negotiating for you! All our consultants are skilled negotiators and are in a more favourable position to arrive at a win-win for both parties.

Photo Credit: masochismtango