Working Adults: 5 Effective Ways to Negotiate Your Salary

If you’re a fresh graduate interviewing for your first job, negotiating your salary will likely be one of the trickier hurdles to face. How do you measure your worth in numbers, or push for higher pay?

Negotiating doesn’t get a whole lot easier as you move from one job to the next, either. These useful tips could steer you in the right direction, but remember: no advice is one size fits all, so go into bargaining your salary with an open mind.

1. Research the average wages in your industry 

It’s important to know your worth. To start, do some groundwork before stating your expected salary. Check the Glassdoor listings belonging to companies in your industry, or make an appointment with a career advisor at Workforce Singapore’s (WSG) Careers Connect Centre. You could also ask friends in the industry for a salary range, if they’re open to it.

If you’re moving from one job to another, many employers are willing to peg their offer to your previous salary, at an increment of between 10% and 20%.

But can you decline to state your last-drawn salary?

Despite Minister for Manpower Josephine Teo’s recent comments on how job-seekers aren’t required to declare their last-drawn salaries when applying for new roles, most employers still prefer to know, in order to estimate if your previous experience matches up to your asking pay.

2. Be humble, but don’t undermine your abilities

Humility is a timeless trait. A positive, humble candidate would naturally be more likeable than an arrogant, pushy one.

If you’ve been offered a job with a salary lower than expected, try negotiating by highlighting your prior work experience. Perhaps describe a project you initiated during a recent internship, or how you contributed to the company’s growth in some way.

If things don’t work out, don’t burn the bridge before it’s been built.

Express your openness to future positions, and always view job interviews and the negotiation process as an opportunity to hone your negotiation skills. 


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3. Meet them halfway

Let’s say you’ve found a job you really like, but the offered salary falls far below the mark. You could attempt to meet them halfway by asking about full-time employment benefits, which might include everything from annual leave, dental and wellness benefits to conditional stock options.

Alternatively, it wouldn’t hurt to propose a salary review after achieving a certain milestone, such as passing probation, or a bigger performance goal such as growing a website’s organic traffic by 20% within the first six months. 

Bargaining chips like these are a good compromise, and give you and the company a chance to assess each other while you prove your worth.

4. Ask for some time to weigh your options

But really, don’t sell yourself short if you’re confident of your worth. If you aren’t sure about the job or offered salary altogether, it’s perfectly okay to ask for two or three working days before you commit.

It’s also a good time to discuss career progression opportunities ahead of time. Note that employers are generally not going to promise fixed timeframes for promotions, since these are pegged to your ongoing performance in the workplace.

Promotions are also often dependent on the company. Larger corporations tend to have a more structured hierarchy of roles, so you might expect a promotion from Executive to Senior Executive, for instance. 

Conversely, start-ups generally run on a flatter structure, so promotions could include moving you to a different vertical altogether, such as being promoted from Content Strategist to Product Marketing Manager.

5. Determine what’s most important to you

Of course, salary isn’t everything. But that depends on what motivates you at work. These include company culture, career progression, and the nature of the work itself. 

If it’s the latter that you care about most, set yourself a base salary — or the lowest possible sum you’d accept — and negotiate your case. If push comes to shove, and working for less simply isn’t your style, then be prepared to walk away. 

Politely decline the offer with a response such as: “After great consideration and thought, I’ve decided to turn down the opportunity to work for [insert company name].” It shows consideration for the company’s time, and is an effective way of closing a chapter on a positive note.

Negotiating your salary is never easy, but arming yourself with these tips could set you up for better pay, so good luck! Be sure to also manage your money with these 5 important personal finance rules, and figure out how much to set aside using Planner Bee’s emergency fund calculator.

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