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Your guide to negotiating the right salary

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay

Whether you’re landing a new job or simply looking for a pay rise, the skills to negotiate your salary are crucial to any career path. It asserts your worth in the workplace, leads to competitive compensation, and ensures your job satisfaction for the long haul. Knowing how to drive such conversations demonstrates your confidence as an employee, helping you snag high-paying jobs throughout your professional life. 

We break down some of the best tactics to negotiate your salary below, and the importance of doing so for the benefit of career progression.

What are some techniques to negotiate the salary you want?

  1. Do your research.
  2. Keep realistic expectations.
  3. Consider other potential benefits.
  4. Select an appropriate time.
  5. Be confident.

1. Do your research. 

Before negotiations begin, it’s firstly important to come prepared. Dig into the market rates of your current industry and examine what competitors pay those in your position. This can be done as easily as asking around your current professional network, or by researching online salary guides and research papers. Robert Half’s annual salary guide, for example, details the average salaries for specific roles across various Australian regions, as well as salary inflation forecasts. 

Knowing your worth, along with current salary trends and benchmarks, can arm you with the persuasive evidence necessary to justify your desired salary range. Generally, the higher demand there is for your skills – the higher salary employees are willing to offer. It’s also important to note that 1 in 2 (52%) Australian employers now consider it more challenging to hire qualified employees post-pandemic, according to Robert Half’s 2021 salary guide. 

2. Keep realistic expectations.

Of course, as with any negotiation, it’s important to set reasonable expectations. Proposing a salary far beyond your market range may just dampen your chances of landing that job, with employers settling for another candidate instead. 

It’s important to know your worth – as well your baseline, non-negotiable salary – but it’s also important to be fair. If it helps, it may even be worth discussing your employer’s expectations. This could include asking them what they expect from you in order to provide the salary you’re after, or constructive feedback on your recent job performance. Keeping things realistic, while maintaining open, honest communication can do wonders throughout the negotiation process.

3. Consider other potential benefits.

work from home concept

Important as salary numbers are, there are plenty other ways a company may also choose to incentivise their employees. These could include offering flextime, the option to work from home, extra vacation days, private health insurance, and training opportunities. With Australian workers now increasingly realising the importance of better work-life balance, and millennials prioritising avenues for skills training – such benefits may also prove valuable in the long run. 

It's thus important to also include these incentives in your negotiation; while employers may be unable to offer you the pay range you desire, they may be open to offering these benefits as an alternative. Bringing up a few may even leave a positive impression on potential employers – such as negotiating for more training opportunities, which demonstrate your initiative and professional drive. 

4. Select an appropriate time. 

Timing is crucial in negotiating a matter as delicate as pay, so be sure to schedule a proper time to discuss with your employer. Before anything else, you’d want to make sure you’ve proved yourself a worthy prospect for the salary you’re after. 

In the case of job interviews, ensure you’ve built up enough experience and skill to prove your value. When aiming for a pay rise, you may want to wait until achieving certain milestones in your company – such as at the end of a large project or after your first year. 

Certain days may also prove to be more optimal times – such towards the end of the week, when schedules are a tad more flexible and your employer has completed their most important tasks. 

5. Be confident. 

Lastly – though most certainly not least – is to negotiate with confidence. As previously mentioned, preparation can help calm the nerves, equipping you with the facts and evidence to clearly state your case. It also helps to think of your discussion as a simple chat, rather than a business meeting or a sales pitch.

Of course, practicing your negotiation skills can work wonders. Before meeting with your boss, outline the key points you wish to bring up and the reasons for wanting a raise or higher pay. Practice running these over (either on your own or with another person), to ensure you’ve got clear, concise arguments come negotiation time. 

Why is it important to negotiate your salary? 

person doing a presentation to executive team

Salary negotiation is a must in any career, as it helps establish the worth and value of your skills within a company. By valuing your abilities enough to ask for higher pay, you’re also presenting yourself as a confident, assertive employee – helping employers see you as such. 

Above all else, it additionally ensures you’re compensated well for the work you provide, helping you feel more secure and engaged in your role. Your current salary can also follow you to your next job, so failing to negotiate for a higher number can very well lead to lower pay potential in your next role. 

According to Linda Babcock, author of Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide, executives who negotiated their salaries in their first job out of college went on to earn over $500,000 (USD) more than those who did not. 

When is the right time to negotiate salary? 

As mentioned, it’s important to set the right place and time to negotiate your salary. Planning in advance can also give you adequate time to prepare the research and arguments you need. 

When discussing a pay rise, be sure you’re at a reasonable stage in your career to do so. This typically means having enough experience and achievements under your belt to justify higher pay – so it may be best to wait for a company anniversary, a performance review, or after helping your employer achieve a major business milestone. 

Evaluate the impact you’ve made at your company: have you contributed to higher sales figures? Helped boost team productivity? Helped complete large-scale projects or important contracts? 

If you’re landing your first job or changing careers, wait to negotiate salaries until you’re offered the role. Potential candidates are often then given a short timeframe to consider their offer, during which you can evaluate your compensation package and any counter offers you wish to propose. Don’t wait until after signing the contract, however; be sure you’re happy with the deal before setting anything in stone. 

Salary discussions are inevitable no matter your role, and having the right skills, knowledge, and experience can help lead successful negotiations. Upskilled currently offers a wide range of courses across Australia’s top industries – from programs in business to IT – helping you build the skills you need to advance the career ladder. 

Build the skills you need for a career boost today.

This article should not be taken as expert financial advice. Please consult a financial specialist for further advice on your circumstances. 
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