There are many ways that a company can go about recognising the work of its employees. It can be done in the form of promotions or even special rewards for jobs well done. While these are undoubtedly welcoming news for employees, few things mean more than a raise when it comes to recognition — and our Talent Trends 2021 report echoes that sentiment as well.

According to our survey, 72% of respondents cited remuneration and benefits as the top consideration when accepting job offers. A piece of even better news is that, depending on the industry, employers, too, are ready to increase the average salaries in 2021. Despite the economic contraction in Malaysia, estimated to be between 5–7%, 43% of our surveyed employers intend to increase their salaries. For new hires in industries such as Healthcare and Life Sciences, and e-commerce, you can even expect anywhere between 5.1% and 8.5% in terms of remuneration increase. 

Ahead, we will explore how employees and job applicants can evaluate their worth in an organisation. And this would assist in salary negotiation, be it during job interviews or annual appraisals

Learning to be a negotiator

Not everyone is a born negotiator. Like how bargaining is an acquired skill, salary negotiation requires a very different mindset. Instead of settling for the first salary amount put on the table, try some of the following tips to increase the offer.

1. Do your homework

It is critical to do your research and know what your role is worth before you step into the interview and negotiate for a higher salary.

One way to do so is via our annual Salary Comparison Tool. This tool offers a comprehensive wage overview of all major sectors in various markets, the key roles and functions, and their respective salary estimates. With this information, you would be able to calculate the average salary range based on your sector, location and work experience.

You can also take your research a step further by speaking to people who can give you the latest updates. It could be someone already in the industry or even a recruitment consultant. With all the desk research in mind, you will be able to enter a salary negotiation with a lot more confidence, especially with all the hard data to back you up.

2. Know your value

Your value to the organisation is sometimes more than just the job designation. For instance, if you have 10 years of work experience in marketing and apply for a senior marketing manager position, you will be able to command a certain amount of salary.

However, suppose you apply for the same role with the same industry experience, but with bonuses of entrepreneurial background and expertise in Search Engine Optimisation. In that case, you will be bringing a lot of extra skill sets and value to the table. Furthermore, suppose you know for a fact that the company you are applying for does not have, say, an SEO-driven content marketing strategy. In that case, your knowledge in that area is suddenly going to be worth a whole lot more.

As you can see, even though job titles are the same, the difference is quite stark. These peripheral skills you have developed over the years will allow you to take the industry standard for the salary benchmark and increase it. Finally, it is always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the industry, find out the most in-demand skills and bank on those during your negotiation.

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3. Ignore your previous salary

One mistake that many job candidates make is to base your salary negotiations on your last drawn salary. While it is always better to earn more than your previous job, using your last drawn salary as a yardstick is by no means a good gauge. Unless you feel that you have gained zero skill since your last job, ignore your previous salary altogether. Instead, look at your objective value to the company and compare that to the industry standard that everybody else is getting.

Obviously, a lot of hiring managers and recruiters tend to use your previous salary as a benchmark for your next salary. So it is especially crucial how you promote yourself to them. Also, bear in mind the type of company you are applying to. Bigger firms may have a bit more leeway to up your pay, while smaller firms would usually have a tighter budget.

It is also not uncommon for job descriptions to require candidates to submit their previous salary. It is a good idea to ignore that or reserve the discussion for the interview itself. Revealing the amount even before the interview will put you at a severe disadvantage.

4. Think beyond your base salary 

Calling it ‘salary negotiation’ is, admittedly, not accurate, since you are actually negotiating more than just the base dollar value. Aside from the salary, you are looking at the basic benefits that come along with your employment.

For example, the salary on offer might be lower than the value you have in your head. However, the benefits that come with the salary might be attractive and more than making up for the balance. As a candidate, you want to consider these additional benefits when negotiating for a raise.

Suppose the salary on offer does not match your expectations. In that case, you can negotiate for other benefits, such as better health plans, flexible work arrangement, additional leave, and training opportunities. And while we are on the point, don’t be limited by your imagination, either. There are plenty of benefits beyond the conventional, from tuition assistance to free coffee. Just remember: This is a business transaction, and everything is negotiable.

5. Hope for the best, but expect the worst

When you are negotiating your salary, it is ideal to provide an amount on the higher end and, mentally, work your way down from there. If the higher offer is accepted, then it is good news for everybody. If it is rejected, adjust accordingly and try again.

Rejection means you need to recalibrate and renegotiate. If the company cannot appreciate what you can potentially bring to the table, you know to take your expertise elsewhere. Remember: if you don’t ask for a pay raise, you are likely not going to get it; if you do ask for a pay raise, there is at least a chance that you might get one.

At the end of the day, there are no guarantees in salary negotiations. Beyond the value you can potentially bring to the company, there are many considerations from the employer and HR point of view, such as tight budgets and even tighter competitions. With that said, if you don’t even attempt at salary negotiation, then you are doing yourself a great disservice in the long run. So do your research, enter a negotiation, and take the conversation on from there.

Regardless of how the negotiation goes, keep in mind to never let your emotions get the best of you; stay calm, and speak respectfully and professionally.

Ready to make your next career move? Get in touch

Read more:
New Opportunities for Asia’s Senior Leaders
8 must-have qualities of an effective leader
7 crucial skills to adapt to the new future of work

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