Professionelle resources

Pay negotiation tips

By Galia BarHava-Monteith

Have you ever wondered: how can I tilt the odds in my favour when negotiating my salary? There are two broad scenarios to think through.

  • Moving to a new job
  • Feeling underpaid in your current role 

Moving to a New Job 

External benchmarking: research the market rates for the role 

You’d never dream of buying a house without researching the market first – well, I doubt you would. Do the same kind of research to prepare for negotiating your salary in a new role. 

   1.    Ask around. New Zealanders don’t like talking about money but there are ways to do it without coming across too strongly. Talk to others employed in the industry about pay rates, recruiters you know, or HR professionals in the industry. 

   2.    Try and get hold of published pay surveys and reports. There are websites for specific industries/professions which have useful tools. Other sources include Sheffield’s reports, and Statistics NZ’s website. 

   3.    If you’re taking a new role in your current company, many companies have pay rates for job bands, so check them out with your HR department. 

“Internal” benchmarking: do a thorough assessment of your skills, experience and ability
Remember that in all this benchmarking, your position in the reported pay bands, both in your company and beyond it, will depend on your experience, your credentials in the industry and your performance. 

To assess where you should be realistically in the pay band you should honestly evaluate how experienced you are and how many candidates there are as good as you for your role. Be honest, but also don’t be overly modest. You’re aiming for realism.
You must also assess how good you are. We suggest you write out an accomplishments list. Facts can help you feel more confident. After this exercise you should have a much better idea of where in the pay band you should be, and whether that indicates a gap. 

Preparation – what you actually want 

Think about your total remuneration package, not just the salary. For example, do you want extra leave for when your children are sick? Do you want more leave in general? Make sure you plan to negotiate for that. Have a bottom line and a top starting position. If the top salary starting position is realistic, you might actually get it! 

In the pay negotiations 

Be transparent about the research you’ve done and how you came up with the figure.
Be courteous but stand your ground, make your position clear and don’t be apologetic about it. You’ve researched it, evaluated yourself and you know your worth and you know how much or how little competition there is for it!

Other tips

  • Flexibility – you can negotiate flexibility without compromising your pay by shifting to measurable outputs to show you’re still performing. If you opt for part time work, be staunch about taking time in lieu when you work an extra day. Too many women move to a lower, part time salary and end up working considerably more than they’re paid for. 
  • If your new job is a big step up (or sideways) it can be hard to negotiate strongly at the outset. Ensure you schedule a pay review within a fixed period, preferably after six months and have it in your contract. 
  • Professional service firms can be very opaque about pay rates, but there is information out there. Use your contacts to get a good picture. Knowledge is power, especially in negotiations.


Feeling Underpaid in your Current Role 

  • Lay the ground work
  •  Do your research 
  • Assess your skills, abilities, accomplishments and contribution to your company 
  • Lift your performance by making sure you put in the extra miles and by networking 
    effectively 
  • Pick your timing – the best time is after a sterling performance review following the hard work you’ve put in or before budget rounds rather than just after! 

Prepare for the discussion

  • Set your reasons for a pay rise based on market rates and your performance 
  • Set a band of what you’re asking for and the bottom line you’re prepared to expect
  • Anticipate any objections and have answers to them that are professional and fact based where possible (use your accomplishment list!) 
  • Think in advance about how long you’re willing to wait for the pay rise and what you’re 
    prepared to do if it’s rejected 

In the negotiation itself 

  • Be confident! It’s more expensive to higher anew then to pay you a realistic and fair increase 
  • Consider brain storming with your boss if you’re prepared to accept other improvement to your package. Such as performance bonus increase, more time off etc. 

And lastly…learn from your experience! Review what worked and what didn’t so that you’re better prepared next time!

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