Salary and Benefits Negotiation Guide (HR Tips)

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Salary and benefits negotiation is a skill that every professional should have irrespective of the career level. Sadly, a survey by Salary.com showed that only 37% of people negotiate their salaries, while 18% never do.  Even worse, 44% of respondents claim to have never brought up the subject of a  raise.

The common excuse why employees and job seekers don’t negotiate their salaries and benefits is fear. But, not negotiating your compensation at all will do you more harm than good.

Regardless of your professional level, and the last time you negotiated your compensations; this salary and benefits negotiation guide will come in handy when the value of the work you do is not reflected in your compensation at work.

What is Salary Negotiation and it’s Importance?

Salary negotiation is a discussion between a worker and the representative of a current or prospective company; the aim is to help the worker secure better pay.

Salary negotiation is not only for new hires.

If your salary isn’t a reflection of the solutions you offer, you should negotiate to get what you’re worth.

How to Evaluate Your Worth

The best way to evaluate a good salary and benefit is to research the acceptable pay for your industry; especially if you’re negotiating employment. Know what your expertise and skills are worth before your interview. That way, you will be prepared to make your case and land a job offer that’s realistic and reasonable.

Here are some things that you could consider when you want to evaluate your worth for a job;

  1. Your years of experience.
  2. Level of expertise.
  3. Training and certification.
  4. Industry average pay.
  5. The company’s level
  6. The position you are applying for
  7. The requirements and demands for the position.

Websites to Research Acceptable Salary and Benefits

Salary negotiation will not feel uncertain or intimidating if you do your research before the negotiation. Hence, research a realistic salary range, and plan how to navigate the negotiation.

Some online platforms where you can research acceptable salary and benefits for your industry;

  1. Mysalaryscale
  2. Salary.com
  3. PayScale
  4. LinkedIn salary tool

Editor’s Recommendation:

How to Negotiate Salary

When you are faced with an employment negotiation, these steps below will guide you;

1. Wait For The Appropriate Time

 Once you’ve estimated what you should be earning, don’t run ahead of yourself. Be patient and maintain poise during your negotiation.

Importantly, when interviewing for a new position, avoid bringing up compensations until the employer makes you an offer.

2. Resist Throwing Out The First Number

Here’s what you can do if you’re asked to give your salary requirements;

You can state clearly that your request is open based on the position and the overall compensation package.

 Or;

Tell the employer you’d like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job before discussing salary.

3. Base Your Salary Request on Data

Your research has to inform your negotiation. That’s to say, if you must provide a salary figure, provide it using a research-based salary range.

4. Talk About What’s Appropriate For The Role

When negotiating your salary, base your request on your level of experience, and what you have to offer. Don’t make your negotiation about your personal financial needs.

5. Take Your Time

Once you’ve been made an offer, you don’t need to accept (or reject) it right away. A simple “I need to think it over” can get you an increase in the initial offer.

P.S: This is highly dependent on your level of experience and the kind of negotiation.

6. Consider Saying No

 If you’re having mixed feelings about the position, a “no” could bring you a better offer. Although, there’s the risk that your employer may instantly accept your answer and move on to another candidate. Therefore, be careful so you don’t decline the job that you want.

7. Negotiate Benefits

If your salary isn’t negotiable, ask if there’re employee benefits and perks that might be negotiable.

For example, the employer might be flexible enough to offer you telecommuting privileges once a week, or an alternate schedule.

Salary Negotiation Examples

Email Salary Negotiation Example

Here is how you can approach a wage negotiation via email:

Ms. Johnson,

Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Project Manager position. I want to state again how honored I am to be considered for this exciting position and thank you for making available, this details.

Before I can accept your offer, I want to address the proposed compensation. As I shared with your recruiting manager, I have more than 5 years of experience in project planning and have worked in leadership positions for the past three years. In my last role, I increased service scores by 15% for supported operational areas by facilitating training and communication on key topics for sales offices. With my experience and expertise, I am seeking a salary within the range of =N=120,000 to =N=125,000, which is slightly higher than your offer of =N=110,000.

I know I can bring value to ABC Company and help you manage and supervise your project expectations this year. Please let me know when we can discuss the salary further.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you,                                        

Samuel James.

Face-to-face or Phone Salary Negotiation Example

Here is how you might approach the situation if you are negotiating face-to-face or via phone:

“Thank you for sending over the job offer package for the Sales Manager position. I am excited about the opportunity and would like to reiterate how grateful I am that you’ve considered me for this role. I believe in your product and I know I can help you derive better results.

However, before I accept your offer, I want to address the proposed salary.

As I shared during the interview process; I have more than 4 years of experience in sales, including 2 years of experience in computer accessory sales. My last role was a managerial position, where I worked for 12 months. In my last role, my team exceeded the monthly quota by 15% for 2 years in a row and landed two of the largest accounts in the company history.

Given my experience and expertise, I am seeking a salary within the range of =N=150,000 to =N= 155,000. However, I am open to discussing alternative compensation, such as opportunities for increased performance-based bonuses.”

Benefits Negotiation

Employment benefits are the additional advantages an employee receives aside their salaries.

Examples of Employment Benefits

  • Medical.
  • Disability.
  • Life insurance.
  • Retirement.
  • Paid time off.
  • Fringe.

For you to be successful with any salary and benefits negotiation, you should understand the elements of your offer. With that, you’ll know how to ask an employer for an increased compensation package.

If you are a fresh employee, your job offer will come with a compensation package that includes your base salary and potential benefits. You may decide to negotiate for a better compensation package if you believe that the offer is not in line with your skillset, education, career level, or strengths.

How to Negotiate Benefits

1. Carefully Consider an Offer Before Giving a Firm Response

Be grateful for the offer and enquire when the employer will need a firm response.

It is smart to say something like;

Thank you very much for this offer, I will review it. Let me know when you need a response from me?

Generally, it is reasonable to take a day or two to review the terms of an offer.

2. Ask Questions About the Offer

Ask questions about the offer even if it meets your expectations.

For new hires, this will ensure that your compensation package empowers you for a happy corporate experience. Likewise, it’ll help you set the pace for your career since initial compensation packages tend to shape your compensation over your term at the company and potentially throughout the rest of your career.

3. Negotiate During Formal and Informal Offer Stages

In the negotiation phase, anything you say is not typically binding. At any time, an employer may change the terms of an offer, or you may back out despite your initial agreements. 

When you receive an official job offer, whether through a formal or informal medium, request for clarifications where necessary.

In case you like to negotiate, it’s best to find a time to talk via phone rather than countering via email.

Consider a straightforward request like this;

 “Now that I’ve had time to review the offer, I would like to discuss the details; can we set up a time to speak?

4. Be prepared with the precise terms you want to see changed in the offer

Regarding the base salary, when negotiating, provide a range that begins with the amount that you want. Use salary ranges for similar roles in your field.

For instance, if you hope to get an offer for a base salary of =N=260,000, you might give a range of =N=260,000 to =N=300,000 in response to the offer.

Why Interviewers Want To Know Your Salary or Benefit Expectation

  1. Employers use the questions to get a sense of whether they can afford your services.
  2. It is also a medium for assessing how you value yourself and the work you do.
  3. For the most part, interviewers ask this question believing that offering a salary 10 to 15 percent higher than your current salary will be enough to lure you away from your current position.
  4.  To know whether you did a thorough research about the opportunity and the company’s whole package.

Salary and Benefits Negotiation Interview Questions

Sample questions:

  1. Tell us your salary expectation?
  2. What are you looking for in terms of salary?
  3. What are you earning now? (This is one of the illegal questions interviewers should not ask.)
  4. What salary range would you require to take this job?
  5. Would you consider taking a pay, lesser than what you earned in your previous job?

3 Ways to Answer Salary and Benefits Negotiation Interview Questions

Example Answer #1- Entry-Level

“I’d like to know more about the specific duties required of this position, which I look forward to in this interview. However, I do understand that positions similar to this one pay in the range of =N=A to =N=B in our region. For the value I’ll add to the company with my commitment, skills, and certifications, I would expect to receive something within the range of =N=A to =N=B.”

Example Answer #2-Mid-Level

My salary requirements are flexible, but I do have significant experience in the field that I believe, adds value to my candidacy. I look forward to discussing in more details; what my responsibilities at this company would be. From there, we can determine a fair salary for the position.

Example Answer #3- Senior-Level

My salary range is flexible. I would like to be compensated fairly for my decade of experience and sales achievement. However, I’m open to discussing specific numbers once we’ve discussed the details of the position.

How to Determine Salary from an Application

Some paper and electronic applications require you to list your salary expectations. One important option is to simply skip this question. However, if it’s listed as a required question and you skip it, the employer might think you’re bad at following directions.

Meanwhile, some online applications won’t let you move on to the next page until you answer all the questions. In this case, here are some options:

  1. Put in a salary range based on your research.
  2. Write a phrase like “negotiable” to demonstrate your willingness to negotiate further.
  3. Don’t state one specific amount. This will make it seem like you’re unwilling to budge.

Salary and Benefits Negotiation Questions for Interviewers

Here are the most important questions to ask if you want to have a solid discussion about a salary boost:

1. “Can I negotiate this offer?”

Start by asking if the offer is negotiable.

If only a certain part of the offer is negotiable, you’ll know where to dwell on.

2. “Besides the base pay, what other benefits are negotiable?”

Make sure to know what’s on the table to be negotiated. This can include support for education and training, paid leave, vacation time, moving expenses, retirement benefits, medical insurance, etc. Know what benefits are deal breakers for you before the salary negotiation begins so that you can ask the interviewer about them during the negotiation.

If you can’t negotiate anything with a direct monetary value, consider bringing up options like;

  • Flextime.
  • Telecommuting.
  • Tuition reimbursement or a certification.
  • Signing and retention bonuses, etc.

3.How does ABC Corporation come up with their payment figure?”

This is another way to indirectly find out if the offer is a hard cap or a potential springboard for negotiation.

Find a way to know if that is a standard offer for your position, or whether the number was gotten based on your academic background, years of experience or other criteria that could be the basis for negotiating.

4. “What’s the prospect for salary raises or promotions?”

Whether or not your salary offer is negotiable, it’s important to know the potential for a raise or promotion. Find a way to know what timescale these advancements usually take place, and how often evaluations are conducted. This information could tip the balance for an initially unattractive salary offer.

5. “What metrics do you use to evaluate the success of your employees?”

This is one of the most important follow-up questions to ask when you’re talking about future salary increases.

With this question, you’ll have an insight into what success means for the organization. Most importantly, it’ll come in handy when you’re back to negotiate your compensations if you end up working for the company.

6. “Can I get the salary offer in a signed paper?”

Completing a negotiation in your favor is great, but it doesn’t mean anything until it’s on paper. Importantly have a document that details all the information of the salary and benefits you’ll be receiving before signing on to the job.

Salary and Benefits Negotiation Guide for Job Seeker

Unless a company says, “We are at the top of our range,” when they present you an offer, there is almost always room to move. Hence, if you feel like the numbers are not where they should be, go ahead and ask for negotiation.

Don’t just recite everything you want from an employer like you are desperate. Approach the negotiation with a thoughtful pitch that makes it easy for your recruiter or your next employer to understand what’s in it for them if they say yes to your request.

Salary and Benefits Negotiation Guide for Staff

As a staff that has dedicated years of hard work and commitment to a company; don’t feel intimidated to ask for a raise when it is due. Just ensure that you approach the issue objectively, build a case based on evidence of valuable contributions you’ve made to the company.

Conclusion

Salary and benefits negotiation is a very tricky topic. If your target compensation is too high, you put yourself out of the company’s salary range. But, when it’s too low, you’ll leave the employer room to go even lower. This could turn out bad as you’ll end up feeling miserable with the lack of proper compensation.

 For you to be successful when negotiating your salary and benefits; always have a good understanding of what the job entails and the other responsibilities that may follow. Secondly, have a sense of what the acceptable compensation for such a position is; by doing your research. Finally, when using this salary and benefits negotiation guide; take into consideration the difference in the industry, geographical area, experience level, and company size.

Compiled by: John Samuel James

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