Last year, the news buzzed with articles about economic discrimination between women and men. The Dutch News Broadcast NOS wrote a short article on why women are less successful when it comes down to salary negotiations. According to the article, women use insecure language more often; they downplay their own qualities and results; they have less confidence during the negotiations.
The article used the discrepancy between the salary of men and women as its topic to focus on the pitfalls of women, but it applies to anyone who wishes to tackle their salary. When it comes to negotiating, it is important to be prepared. Without decent preparations, the outcome will be poor, or worse, the impression made will not be one in your favour.
Check your market value
First, it is important to determine what the average salary of the potential job you seek might be. Sometimes, the job description gives an indication, but this is not always the case. To get an impression what the job will pay, check the company’s CAO. The major trade unions often provide these.
Unfortunately, not all companies have a CAO, when this is the case some additional research is necessary. The website loonwijzer gives an indication what the average salary is of the proposed profession. This website is, unfortunately, entirely in Dutch. The website Payscale gives a decent impression too and is in English.
Have a number and a range in mind
Once you have determined what the company might pay or what the average employee in a similar position earns, it is important to determine what you think you should be earning. When providing a number, it is better to decide on a specific amount rather than a round number according to Malia F. Mason’s study. A precise amount implies you have thought it through.
Besides a precise number, determine a range based on your research. A range gives the impression you are open to negotiations. It may also be less confronting to the hiring party, something a precise number could easily be. Do make sure the range is acceptable to the amount you have in mind.
Just offering an indication will not do unless you can support it by sound arguments. Thus, before entering the negotiations make sure you have prepared arguments with clear examples. Do not improvise during the negotiations; it will only weaken your position.
Broaching the topic during job interviews
The advice given to job hunters varies. Some advise not to mention the pay at all unless the employer brings it up, while some say to inquire after nearing the end of the interview. All agree that the emphasis should not be about the pay but about being the right candidate.
However, it is not unusual for interviewers to ask the candidate about their current salary or what salary they wish to earn. The question is why do they ask it at this point in the interview? Is it a screening question or are they considering hiring you? Recruitment agencies tend to ask these questions before actually presenting candidates to their clients. A neutral answer is often sufficient: ‘my current salary conforms to my experience and market value.’ By adding a follow-up question such as, ‘what is the range you have in mind for the position’, you may get more insights into what the hiring party has in mind.
When asked what amount you have in mind for the position, one possible answer would be that you first wish to determine you are a good fit for the job and the company before discussing salaries.
Negotiating during performance evaluations
This might seem more difficult than during a job interview, but it is very similar. Prepare your arguments as to why you ought to deserve an increase in salary. Leading the conversation up to this topic is perhaps the most difficult one. To get an impression on how it can be done, check this article by The Muse.
Money is not everything
Of course, the focus lies on getting higher pay, but keep in mind that there is more to gain than just cash. Make sure to look at the fringe benefits and the training opportunities the company offers before heading to the interview. A higher salary is nice, but so is training opportunities, travel allowance, or a discount on healthcare insurance.
Negotiating will remain nerve-wracking, but by doing thorough research and preparation, it will feel less like being greedy or ungrateful.
written by Cecile Koster for Together Abroad.