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Negotiate your pay and get the salary you deserve

So your CV was gleaming, your interview skills were on point, and you've been offered the coveted position.

The only trouble is that your prospective employer is offering a little less than you'd like. How can you handle the situation effectively - and without blowing your chances? Negotiating your salary is a tricky business, especially when you're less experienced, but with a few pointers, it can most definitely be done.

Manage Your Expectations

The first step towards securing the salary you want is by concentrating your job search in the right areas. You will need to do your research. Find out what an average salary is for a job at your level in the field. This will be your benchmark figure. While good companies want to hire the best people - and are willing to pay in order to secure them - it's very unlikely that you will be able to negotiate significantly higher pay than the average, even if you are very highly qualified. Once you've worked out the benchmark figure, you can aim for a starting salary within its upper reaches.

A Word on the Public Sector

Wages in nursing, teaching, and other public sector professions have traditionally been governed by fixed pay scales based on years served within those professions. However, if you are starting out and you have extra qualifications which set you apart from your peers (such as a Master's) or other relevant professional experience, it may be possible to negotiate your way up to the next rung of the pay ladder. Speak to HR after your job offer.


We're all familiar with the "fake it until you make it" line. But in can come in very handy when it comes to negotiation skills. Women in particular often find it harder to negotiate, but politeness and a quiet confidence (even if it is faked) will put you in a good position. You have to tell yourself: if you've got to the interview stage, you have already done better than the majority of candidates. Know your worth! If you've done your homework, know the value of your skills, and are hungry for the opportunity, especially important if you don't have years of work experience behind you, you are much more likely to be able to sell yourself.

Hone Your Negotiation Skills: Don't Be the First to Talk Numbers

If you mention money first, you risk looking like you don't care about your contribution and fit within the company - you're just after the bottom line. While that may be true to an extent, it's imperative not to show it. So, if the company asks for a salary expectation on the initial application, just leave that part blank. If the company asks you in person how much you would like to make, a response such as "I'm more interested in working with you doing X than about how much you pay me" works well. If they press you, ask them to make a reasonable offer. The aim of this negotiating game is to get them to name the figure first. If the number mentioned is lower than the one you would like, tell them - but don't say by how much.

Dealing with the Outcome

The outcome of the negotiation will be one of two things: you will either start working for the company, or you won't. If you are committed to a certain wage, have done your homework, and know that what you want is reasonable given your experience and qualification level and the market in general, you may decide to walk away from the offer you're given if the employer won't budge. If, on the other hand, the number you are offered is in line with other salaries at the same level elsewhere - but just not quite as much as you had in mind - you may consider taking the job anyway. A lot of this will depend on the state of the market for the job you want.