Applications, aptitude tests, interviews – a typical pathway before you are fortunate enough to be offered your dream role.

As you sort out paperwork, you get asked “what is your ideal salary?”, causing you to panic. It’s common to feel intimidated by this question, whether it’s your first graduate role or as an experienced professional. If you’re too reserved, you risk underselling your market worth and giving the impression of being a pushover. Become too forward and you risk giving the impression of being a difficult employee. With the right level of research, timing and plan of execution you can ensure that you come out winning every time.

What is my job worth?

When applying for a new role, it’s known that to increase the rate of success you have to research the company thoroughly. More and more, organisations are advertising roles where the stated salary is “competitive”, giving you little to go on.

Websites such as Glassdoor as an excellent resource to begin the negotiation process, as it provides information such as the average salary for your role as well as how it compares with the organisation’s competitors. In addition, meeting up with any contacts in the industry can help you decide where your salary should begin, based on their experiences. Both resources provide a good starting point to begin the negotiation process.

If you’re moving roles in the same organisation, you can lever negotiations in your favour by discussing successful projects and activities and their value to the company. This gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your worth and leads to a more successful result in the negotiation process.

Bargain, bargain, bargain!

A common mistake that applicants make when negotiating, is treating the process more like a supermarket than a bazaar. The stated sticker price is not set in stone, and the first offer isn’t necessarily the final one. The key to this is to take your time. In most cases, your employer will present you with an offer, but you can ask for some time to think about it. When you come back to them, present them with a counteroffer and be prepared for them to say no. Remember that salary isn’t the only thing that you can negotiate. Benefits and company perks are also forms of compensation, and you can ask for them in lieu of cash rewards. Workers have successfully negotiated for paid travel, car service, and extended contracts.

During this process it’s tempting to show your emotions. Studies have shown that candidates who became emotional during negotiations were less likely to be as firm with decision-making and less likely to get the deal they really wanted. Practice what you want to say to your employer, so that way you can go into that room, stay positive and get the salary you want.

Written by Craig Poku