Money talks: Job offers and salary negotiation


So you’ve battled through the exhausting process of job hunting, tailoring your cv and preparing for an interview. You’ve managed to impress your new employer, and they’ve made you an offer – now the real test begins.

Its easy in the heat of the moment to fall into the trap of lowering your salary expectations to ‘win’ the job. You may feel awkward about talking money. Perhaps you’re concerned that negotiating a higher salary will make you seem ‘greedy’ or arrogant. Maybe you’re desperate for the job, have no other offers and if you’re being honest with yourself, perhaps you don’t really believe you’re the best candidate for the role. If any of the above is true, accepting a bargain basement salary will only be to your detriment.

In those fiery moments of excitement and nerves, keep your cool and factor in the following:

  • You’ve had to put yourself on the line to prove that you are the best candidate to perform the role. Your employer agrees with you, hence why they’re making you an offer. Up until now, you’ve done all the hard work. Time for some reciprocity.
  • You’re in a strong position to tell your new employer what your time is worth. Remember you will be making them money.
  • How you respond to an offer provides a lasting impression of your ability to clearly communicate your wants and needs.
  • Accepting less tells your employer you don’t think you’re worth more.
  • You are unlikely to have your salary reviewed again for another year (unless you negotiate terms of your contract as outlined below). Think ahead, in four months time are you really going to be happy with the accepted first offer?
  • You’re the person taking home the pay cheque – modesty and settling for an average offer will not help you achieve your financial goals, and does nothing for your confidence next time round.
  • Lastly (and most importantly), have reasonable expectations. Read up on market salary rates before your interview – that’ll tell you what’s ‘reasonable’. This is going to give you a good idea of how much will be up for negotiation. Are they offering below or above market rate?

A salary range is likely to have been provided in the job advert. If they’ve asked you in the interview, then hopefully you’ve responded with a range that does not include your bottom line. Of course, offers are made in accordance with experience and interview performance.

Responding to an offer in a professional and confident manner is crucial. Before you start overthinking your response, a good place to start is with a simple “thank you”. Acknowledging the company’s offer is important. Playing it too cool may come across as unappreciative or unfazed by the opportunity to work for your new employer.

Now for your pitch. Respond with a figure that is at the top end of the range you provided in the interview (you can say something like, “I was really hoping for $…, given my experience in this area/qualifications”). Keep your voice steady, if you’ve got any self-doubt in what you think you’re worth, it will show. This should be above what you are expecting. Wait for them to respond. It’s unlikely that they will say yes or no straight away. They may say something like, “we can’t offer you that…”. It’s important to stay firm. You hold the cards.

You may be thinking, but what happens if there’s no flexibility?

There’s not always, but usually there is. Sometimes its worth testing the waters.

In circumstances where it’s been made clear that the salary really is fixed, there’s more than just money that can be negotiated. Having successfully passed the interview, you would have carefully considered your future career goals, and what it is you’re hoping to achieve. Is there a course or accreditation they would be willing to pay for? Can you negotiate extra leave?

Think about what you are trying to achieve with the company, and what your new employer can do for you. If you can’t think of anything, negotiate a term in your employment contract for your salary to be reviewed after six months – don’t be afraid to ask them what they expect of an exceptional employee.

You’ve been offered the job because you’re the best candidate. You don’t need to be arrogant, but at the same time, the best candidate doesn’t need to settle for the bottom line. Set the precedent of your expectations from the beginning so you can make the most of the opportunities available at your new place of employment.

Share your experience, leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.



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