How to negotiate a starting salary

Negotiating and discussing salary requirements with an employer can often feel like the most difficult and daunting part of an interview for most job seekers.

The fear is that they may price themselves too high and risk losing the job, or undervalue themselves and walk away dissatisfied.

How do you get around this? If you have an upcoming interview or are currently negotiating a salary for a scientific job, we recommend these steps to successfully negotiate a good starting salary.

 

Cartoon of an interviewer and interviewee

 

Step 1: Aim to enter the interview with a ‘base’ rate and an ‘ideal’ rate.

A base rate is the lowest rate you would be happy with and can afford to accept. When determining this, think about your financial commitments such as bills and commuting expenses. On the other hand, an ideal rate is a rate you believe yourself to be worth. It would be highly beneficial, when calculating this, to do some salary research to ensure that you are pricing yourself correctly in relation to the skills and experience you are bringing to the role.

 

Step 2: Share the range between your ‘base’ rate and ‘ideal’ rate with the interviewer.

When it comes to the point during the interview where salary expectations are being discussed, you should share your base rate and ideal rate with the interviewer. It is highly recommended to provide them with a reason for the variation between the two rates. For example, you could state that the range depends upon the specific responsibilities that will be involved and how well your experience and skill set to match what will be expected of you. Make it clear to the employer that money is not your core motivation, you should be willing to grow and develop in the role and therefore be flexible on the salary.

 

Step 3: Negotiate fairly and reasonably.

It is quite common for companies to offer the base rate salary, however, you do not have to take it. If you feel that this is an unfair offer, you can ask for more money unless the employer states that it is non-negotiable.

Whilst negotiating, you could use language like:

“Thank you for choosing me to fill this role, I am very excited to be joining the team. However, I do feel that it is important for me to speak to you about the offered salary. Whilst I would really like to accept the job at this rate, it is on the low side of my income needs which would make things very challenging for me. I was hoping to achieve a salary closer to ‘____’. This would ensure that I could give 100% to the role without the worry of covering my expenses. If you would be willing to agree to this salary, then I would make sure that you felt you were getting good value for your money.”

It is important to tailor your negotiations from this starting point, depending on the position you are applying for and the prospective company.

It can be easy to feel intimidated whilst discussing salary expectations with an employer, however, it is important to remember to value your skills and experience. Being skilled and confident during negotiations is vital to ensuring professional success, therefore it is good practice to start now.

 

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