How to ask for a higher starting salary

Over the course of your working life, you’ll receive a few raises.salary-negotiation.JPG

However, your annual raises will be pitiful, at just slightly over the inflation rate. Your major salary increases will only occur when you receive that rare promotion.

That’s why it’s so important to ask for a higher salary when you first begin working.

Few candidates actually ask for a higher salary, and I suppose shyness, and fear of appearing greedy, are the major reasons for this. However, you should definitely try to negotiate as high a salary as you can, when you first join your job. This is your most significant chance to try to earn more, and here are some tips for asking for higher starting pay:

  • Do your homework: Before asking for any sort of salary, know what you’re worth, in terms of your education, experience and work potential. What are people similar to you (in terms of career and accomplishments) earning? And what are your hiring company’s pay scales like? Research the company to find out how much it’s possible for them to pay. One of my friends wanted to work for a salary which was only offered to senior executives (entry level was the executive post), so he boldly claimed to be interested only in the senior exec position.
  • Delay a detailed salary discussion: Until your employers know more about you, they won’t be able to judge just how much you’re worth. Focus on getting hired first, and then on how much you’ll get. If you mention your desired salary in too much detail too early, that’s when you’ll come off as being either desperate or greedy. If you’re asked early on about how much you’d like, say something along the lines of “according to the salary scale”, “according to the industry rate” or “as much as you decide i’m worth”. Mention that salary is not the only thing that’s important: you’re also interested in how much you can contribute, how challenging the work will be, how fast you’ll be able to rise within the ranks, etc.
  • Take your time to accept a salary offer: Never accept something at a moment’s notice. No matter how tempting it is to say “yes”, always thank the recruiter, restate how much you’d love to work in that company, and ask for time to consider the offer. Later on, think about the offer calmly. Consider your other offers, what the industry typically pays, how much and how often the increments will be, how fast you’re likely to get promoted, and what other benefits this job will provide.
  • Ask for more: As long as you’re polite and respectful, no one will think that you’re greedy if you ask for a higher salary. In many cases, hiring officers have the discretion to offer upto 20% more, to get the right candidate. And often, the first salary offered is intentionally low, in order to keep the flexibility of possible increases.
  • Go step by step: When asking for more, first ask for a higher base pay. Since other forms of payment are usually linked to the base salary, this is the one you really want to increase. If this isn’t possible, ask for increases in other benefits, such as transport allowances, etc. You can try to ask for a signing bonus, and stock options or other incentives. Finally, you can ask for tuition reimbursement, more holidays and sick leaves, etc.
  • Always be honest: Never state something like “I won’t work for less than 30K”, unless you really, really mean it.
  • Know when to stop: Most hiring officers are flexible to some degree, and will offer you some concessions. However, in some companies, their first offer is really the only one that they’re allowed to make. And sometimes, you’ll see that concessions aren’t coming any more. That’s when you’ll know, it’s time to stop.

Good luck, and happy negotiating!

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