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Be Salary Savvy, But Don’t Price Yourself Out of a Job

You want the job on offer, but you’re concerned – the salary is only a few percentage points more than your current role – what do you do?

A: Only accept if they agree a salary increase of 5% and stick to your guns?

B: Evaluate your current financial benefits and weigh these up strategically?

You are advised to go for B, even if you don’t take the job on offer – you will gain a thorough understanding of the true worth of jobs in your sector and associated benefits.  How do you do that?  In a nutshell, you need to monetise all areas of any given role:

Evaluating your Options:

Set yourself up a basic spreadsheet and monetise the benefits, add in personal costs to you on both sides, and then you will be equipped to negotiate a given salary.  Realistically, if you are hoping for anything above 5% – there has to be very significant reasons for the prospective employer to pay this – don’t go in with unrealistic salary expectations.

Relocation costs: do you have to move, and if so, are they willing to assist?  If not, how much will this cost you?

Health cover: is health cover on offer as part of the new package?  If not, how much is private health cover?  Even if you would always use the NHS – still analyse the costs and benefits.  You may find health cover to be a significant advantage, particularly if you have a family.

Hours of work: what is your current salary worth per hour on an average week?  Compare this to your new salary and projected working hours. 

Annual leave: If you are moving from the NHS and into the private sector and have long service, it is likely that you will have to take a drop in holiday allowance. 20-25 day’s holiday + bank holidays is deemed as good in the private sector. There may be an opportunity to negotiate the monetary loss but don’t expect to negotiate an increase on what is their standard company policy is. Qualify what the holiday allowance increase is with service.

Work/life balance: what will the new role bring in terms of a healthy work/life balance?  At this stage in your career – do you need a certain amount of hours at home, or are you more free for over time?

Promotion prospects: what sort of promotion can you reasonably expect in a 2-5 year period?  What sort of salary might a promotion bring?

Projected growth: this could be linked to ‘promotion prospects’.  There may not be any identifiable promotions in the near future, but if the annual report projects 30% growth over the next 3 years, your ambitious and optimistic nature could lay the foundations for this.

Market value of role: do your research.  Compare the salary on offer with others in similar fields – you may wish to ask your prospective employer what HR have budgeted for the role and see if you can negotiate towards the upper end based on the field and your salary/promotion history.

Car: will you need a car, do you have one, will they supply a company vehicle – is public transport an option? Weigh up the costs and monetise costs and benefits in your spreadsheet.

Don’t demand, ask; questions are of course necessary, but don’t appear aggressive.  You can reasonably suggest that you are new to the sector/organisation/field/discipline, and while questions regarding money can feel uncomfortable, you are well within your rights to clear up some issues while keeping the career opportunity the focus.  From this angle, you can ask exactly what the benefits are:

Example: The salary – “Are salaries at this level reviewed on an annual basis?”

This question will allow you to further probe, without becoming pushy – you may find that salaries can be reviewed by an initial instigation of the employee, and you may find that salaries gain annual automatic increments at a percentage per grade, and so on.  These are fair points – but, as stated, don’t price yourself out of a dream job with a great future with unrealistic salary expectations.

Crucial tip: qualify the salary on offer at the beginning of the recruitment process, do your calculations and communicate your salary expectation to ensure that it can be met, and you are not wasting your time or the employers going through the recruitment process.  

Be Transparent and Realistic: There is nothing more frustrating for an employer than when a recruitment process falls down at the offer stage because they weren’t aware that you required a certain financial figure, especially if this is beyond a budget that was outlined. 

Also, don’t assume that they will qualify your salary expectation, negotiating salaries is a skill that requires good communication and diplomacy and not all hiring managers have these skills.  This is your career move; you need to manage this.


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