How to negotiate your salary in English

How to negotiate your salary in English

by Adriana Stein

Updated November 10, 2022

So the time has come. You’ve either reached the point of discussing your salary in a job interview or would like to ask for a higher salary at your current job. Either way, you now need to muster up the courage to present you and your skills in a way that not only adds value to your company, but also gets you the salary you deserve. 

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1. Do your research

Before you decide on the salary you’d like to have, start by doing some research to understand the salary ranges for your current position and location. One of the best places to do so is Glassdoor. Enter in your job title and city you live in, and the results show you a range of salaries for the position on average, as well as some examples from different companies. 

2. Give ranges

From the information above, you can then decide on an appropriate range to use during your negotiation. A general rule of thumb is to use a range of 10.000 or more (but of course within reason), so for example, 50.000 – 60.000 EUR per year, because this sets the basis for your negotiations. Always give yourself some wiggle room, but also start higher. If they say yes to the higher salary, then awesome. But if they say no, then you know you’ve still got a bit of space to go down without feeling disappointed. 

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3. Consider how to describe your value

A big part of landing the salary you strive for is simply how you describe yourself. It’s not always about the money (though that does factor in to some extent). The basic idea here is that you describe what you bring to the table in such a manner that giving you the salary you deserve seems logical for both parties.

Here’s one example conversation for how to present this for a new job interview:

Employer: What are your salary expectations for this position?

Employee: Based on market research, my expectations for my salary for this position are in the range of 50.000 – 60.000 EUR per year. 

Employer: Why do you expect this salary?

Employee: For my unique skill set and what I will bring to the company, this salary is logical. For example, I automated reports which saved 50 hours per month or EUR 1000 per day in my previous position. The savings are being used to expand that location over the next year. Now that I know precisely how to implement such improvements, I could do that and more during our work together.

Note: A few key points to highlight from this conversation are:

  • Concrete examples of your value and skillset (including numbers and statistics where possible)
  • Giving your range with “Based on market research…” (it shows you’ve done your homework and no HR department should go lower than that)
  • Talking about the job position with we phrases such as “our work together” (it shows that you perceive the value as a team effort)

4. Stay flexible

Now let’s continue this conversation as if the employer makes a counter offer for the range you’ve given.

Employer: Ok I understand your point. However, we have to be careful that we stay within our budget requirements for this position. Would a yearly salary of EUR 50.000 be doable for you?

Employee: I understand your concerns, however I would be more comfortable with EUR 55.000. As EUR 50.000 is on the lower end of my range and I bring a high level of experience to this position, I believe EUR 55.000 is more adequate. It is also my plan to work with you over the long term and develop my skills further here, which would provide additional value in the future.

Note: Because you’ve offered a range, it’s likely that the employer will counter on the lower end of the range (why you always need to start out higher from the get-go). If your goal is EUR 55.000, then you can present your value now (again with we phrases), and how that will expand further in the future. It’s always important to remain flexible, listen, and respond with empathy, as you don’t want to turn off your potential employer from working with you entirely.

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5. Balance out salary and benefits

One way of “meeting in the middle” is to stipulate your salary plus certain benefits. Here we can continue our negotiation conversation based on adding benefits to make up for the EUR 5.000 you’d like to have in addition.

Employer: As it is our goal to also work with you over the long term, what if we were to provide additional benefits to make up for this additional EUR 5.000? Do you have a suggestion here?

Employee: Yes I would be flexible to incorporate some benefits. Could I receive meal vouchers, a monthly public transit ticket, and German language classes? German language classes in particular would help me to develop my skills and provide additional value to my position and our work together over the long run.

Employer: That’s true, we do need someone who speaks German in your department to support our clients. That works for us then. I will take some time to clear everything with my supervisor and then we’ll get back to you.

Note: Here again, the benefits are described as “additional value”, meaning if you learn German, then your value will be even higher. You might even consider benefits that are higher than EUR 5.000 if you can tie them into specific value they would enable you to bring to the company. You can negotiate on benefits just as much as the salary, so you should aim high here as well.

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6. Follow up

At this point, the details need to be smoothed out and you might have to wait a bit to get the final confirmation. In many cases, the employer will give a time frame that they’ll give you an update within. If not, make sure to ask this directly at the end of the conversation, so you know when to follow up in case you didn’t hear anything.

If this deadline passes, don’t fret just yet! Sometimes people go on holiday, are sick, or have an emergency to tend to. It doesn’t mean you haven’t gotten the job. Follow up with your contact and ask if they have an update or if circumstances have changed and try to schedule an exact meeting date to discuss the final terms and contract.

And with that, you’ve got it! I wish you all the best in your upcoming salary negotiations!

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