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Negotiating to the Salary You Want: Good news! It’s a candidate-driven market

There are basically four ways to make more money.

  1.      You can get a bonus for doing a great job that gives you that desired bump in pay, at your current company.
  2.      You can get a deserved promotion and a raise at your current company.
  3.      You can find for a new job at a new company that includes a promotion and a raise.
  4.     You can find a new job, the same job, but at a new company that pays more.


Let’s briefly examine these four options in the simplest of terms. Find the overlaps in the situations below with your own, and be flexible (always) in your thinking. Remember that although your income is personal to you, it is a business decision for the company. So, try to think of yourself as the business of YOU and disconnect your emotional side. This can be difficult, but I assure you, it is important when evaluating your plan and negotiating with anyone.


1. You like your job, you’re paid well, but your company doesn’t “do” bonuses. Bonuses are part of some companies salary plans, but for many others, bonuses are not included.  This is, in part at least, a cultural thing, but you might be able to influence the culture. If you’re looking for a bonus, you might start by having a conversation with your manager or other company executive about the thought process around bonuses and what it would take for someone to earn a bonus.  Is there something above and beyond your job description that would encourage the company to give you a bonus that you could consider doing?  This could be a win-win; the company could get a special project done and you could develop an additional skill-set, as well as earn more recognition as a vital team member from management.


2. You like your job, but you think you’re underpaid.  This case is about perceived value.  You perceive yourself as doing a great job, but your company is not putting the same value on your work as you do.

  • Try to learn about the pay scales for various jobs in your company. Compare your job responsibilities and skill-sets against these jobs and pay scales.
  • If you can learn about your peers’ job responsibilities and pay, that is more information to compare to.
  • Based on what you learn, approach your manager with facts about all the information you have gathered regarding pay scales, salaries, jobs and responsibilities. Make a  business case for why you believe you should be earning more and ask how s/he can work with you to reconcile your current job responsibilities and salary. This could entail working towards or receiving an earned promotion, being ‘right’ salaried, a bonus, more vacation time in lieu of salary, etc.

When negotiating with your manager, it is extremely important to keep emotion OUT of the conversation.  This is a business negotiation, not a fight.  You should expect the process to take a few conversations, but your ability to be professional during this time period will help your set the tone and reach your goals.


3. You’ve decided it’s time to look for another job, in another company, that provides more growth opportunity.  You’ve tried to find a growth path internally without success. Or, maybe you don’t like the culture, management structure, company size, projects, or the team anymore. Whatever your reason, and there are many, it’s not just about the money.  As you start the search process, determine what you are looking for in a new role, things that will help you grow professionally, and are important to you, and make a list.

  • Set a few priorities on the list you just made…but remember to be flexible.  Things can (and often do) change.
  • Consider whether higher pay is a must on this list or just a nice to have.  Maybe growth is more important than salary right now, if other things fall into place.
  • Take the interview…even if you’re not sure about the job.  Interview practice is important, as it helps you learn your weak spots.  Interview, interview, interview.
  • When you find the right position/company, tell them what you’re looking for, but remember to remain flexible.


4. You want a higher salary. Period. In a candidate-driven market like we have today, people can sometimes make the wrong decision, for the right reason.  By this, I mean changing jobs simply to earn more money.  If you like your job, and all you want is to earn more money, then please explore Options 1 and 2 and 3, above.  If however, for any reason, you decide to look for another job simply to earn more money then the paths above will help you.  Unfortunately, as a recruiter who has seen people change jobs for all the reasons above, I know through experience that the least successful job change is one done SOLELY for a raise.  By this, I mean that people who choose money as the ONLY motivator of a job change will often find a job that pays more, but will often, again, be unhappy in a short amount of time.  Of course, that could lead to another job change for reason number 3… and then maybe, eventually lead to a great job.


Ultimately, only you know your best path to reach your salary goals.


Anzu Global provides highly specialized temporary, permanent and executive staffing services to the Globalization industry.  We help companies find the outstanding candidates they want to hire in order to meet their corporate goals, and help candidates find the next dream job that moves their career forward.  Claire Brovender Liliedahl has been working in the recruiting industry, with companies and candidates, for over 20 years. Prior to recruiting she worked in the high technology industry and was at various times a candidate and a hiring manager.  Having sat on all sides of the recruiting table, she strives to always be the recruiter she liked to work with – consultative and honest. She can be reached at cliliedahl@anzuglobal.com.