Salary negotiation – Don’t price yourself out

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Salary negotiation. To sum up this entire process in one word, it would be: Delicate.

Salary negotiation is never and will never be a piece of cake - Test waters without offending the hiring manager and at the same time ensure you do not undercut yourself. By the end of the negotiation, you have to ensure both parties walk away feeling like they both have got what they wanted. How?

Consider this - This is the salary guide you will ever need. How so? We did our secondary research and reached out to our experienced headhunter who revealed to us their strategies when approaching the sensitive topic of salary negotiation. All companies always start the negotiation process with a verbal offer after the job offer is out. You can do your part by knowing the market rates from salary reports.

Be transparent

To start the negotiation on the right footing, “You have to be transparent regarding your past allowance, transport, bonuses, incentives or compensations that you have received. This will help the other party to come up with a more complete offer, and the negotiation process, explains Anita. Moreover, you have to be prepared to show documentary proof of your salary.

Do your homework

Just like how you would never go into a battle without your battle gear, you can never enter a negotiation unprepared. You can do your research in many ways. Make use of websites such as and various other websites that provide salary information like salary benchmarking. Your own network can be a very effective source. Enquire amongst your industry peers to get information on the salary range for your specific job. Based on the information, have a estimate on how much you would like to be offered.  For instance, when negotiating for sales roles, you can be looking at the upside of an average of 12-15% for the base salary excluding commission. Have a minimum figure in mind and leave some room for negotiation to reach a mutual compromise. However, as Ms Anita Sim from AYP Associates reminds, “Do not price yourself out.”


Practice on how you are going to negotiate your salary. Anita suggests asking questions such as when you will have your next increment if the company is consider a salary increment at this point of time. Have someone you trust to practice the negotiation with you by role-playing the entire experience. You can also record yourself to find your flaws. The more you practice, the more at ease you will be during the actual phone call.

Know your full package well

Ask for a breakdown of your full compensation package such as your vacation or paid time off, medical, dental and life insurance. Having such information will enable you to make trade-offs or come up with a sound counter proposal. Asking for non-monetary compensation can provide you with more leverage when making your counteroffer. For instance, you can ask for an increase in salary to compensate for spending more on medical benefits or asking for another week of paid leave instead. However, do rank the options that you want to bring to the negotiation table so that both parties will be able to compare and explore the full set of options. Based on Anita’s experience, sometimes the package itself is not everything, and candidates tend to neglect other factors. For instance, the culture of the company, the IT infrastructure and their co-workers.

Be thick-skinned

There may be situations where the potential employer will counter-offer your request for a higher salary for various reasons for example:

  • Lacking slightly in experience.
  • Internal equity
  • Market practice

Do not be deterred by this and gently let your employer know the justification to the request and how the company will benefit from investing in you.

Keep your emotions in check

Do not forget about your own emotions. The last thing you ever want is to let your emotions get over you and start throwing a fit because you are not able to get the salary you wanted.

Act natural

Do not let the negotiations become do-or-die situations. Be friendly in your exchanges and let things flow naturally. Never let negotiations turn into conflict or sour disagreements.

Although salary negotiations seem tricky, it is very important that you keep your previous salary transparent and known to the other company.

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