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How to negotiate your salary when you’re offered a new job

You’ve just been offered a new job and it’s time to talk salary. But for some people, talking about money isn’t easy, especially when it’s with a new boss. How do you negotiate without underselling your qualifications and experience? Will you jeopardise the offer if you ask for too much?

Negotiating the right salary can be a tricky task but get it right and you’ll reap the financial rewards for potentially years to come.

Dr Sarah Steen from Deakin University’s Faculty of Business and Law explains how to figure out your financial worth, when the best time to initiate the conversation might be, what to do if the offer is lower than you expected, and how to maintain a positive relationship with your new employer throughout the entire situation.

When is the right time to negotiate your salary?

Dr Steen says it’s important to approach salary negotiations carefully, as you don’t want to give off the wrong impression.

‘You certainly need to be careful about when to approach salary negotiations. If you mention salary too early in an interview setting you may give the wrong impression that you are just there for the money,’ Dr Steen says.

Often, it’s important to wait until you receive the official job offer which usually outlines the salary package. In some cases, the salary may be lower, but the offer will include incentives, so be aware of the full package before negotiating.

‘Keep in mind that sometimes a salary is offered as part of a package, so before a salary negotiation, you should think about what you would be willing to accept and how much you value certain incentives which may look like a smaller salary amount but with benefits that you find enticing.

‘[However] it is very important to know your financial worth prior to an interview, demonstrating your value is essential,’ Dr Steen says.

Acknowledge your financial worth

Understanding your financial worth is important to ensure you don’t settle for anything less than what you deserve. It also helps to understand what you can bring to an organisation.
‘Part of knowing your financial worth is being able to clearly articulate your personal qualities, the value you can bring to the organisation, the experience you bring and the desirable skills you have that are needed in the new role,’ Dr Steen explains.

Draw on examples of when you have demonstrated skills in previous roles and experiences to support your argument.

‘When answering questions, use specific examples of when you have demonstrated desired skills, knowledge and qualities. It is important to spend some time before the interview thinking about the value, experiences and skills you can bring to the role and what that translates to in terms of salary range,’ Dr Steen says.

Understand the job market

It can also be helpful to know what other organisations are paying for the same or similar roles before raising it with the appropriate contact.

‘Consider what has been offered in comparison to what is being offered in the labour market. If it is relatively similar it may make sense to avoid negotiating if it is your first job and your professional experience is minimal,’ Dr Steen says.

In this case, salary negotiation could be something to approach further down the track.

‘Passing probation may be an appropriate time to review your salary. [But] it might be worth having a conversation with HR or your manager to share your salary expectations, and it may be that you both agree to review your performance in a few months’ time as well as your salary,’ Dr Steen explains.

But what should you do if the offer is less than what you anticipated, and far less than what is on offer from other organisations?

How to negotiate an offer that’s lower than what you expected

‘If you receive a contract offer with a salary less than you expected, communicate with the contact person or HR manager for a chat about the salary. In the meeting be honest with them and explain that the salary is less than what you expected.

‘Highlight your experience and the value you can bring to the organisation. This may result in an increase or potentially the organisation may suggest that the salary is reviewed after probation, and if that is the case ensure you get it in writing,’ Dr Steen explains.

However, be prepared that not every organisation will be willing to negotiate.

‘If they are unwilling to increase the salary, you may need to weigh up whether the role is for you, taking into consideration the opportunities the role might bring.

‘Remember to be humble and remind yourself of your value to use as a strategic lever,’ Dr Steen advises.

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Dr Sarah Steen
Dr Sarah Steen


Faculty of Business and Law,

Deakin University

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