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  • Writer's pictureMwikali

Negotiating that Job Offer

Updated: Jan 15, 2018

This article offers current and future employees advice on how to successfully and confidently approach new and current employers on their renumeration packages.

In my career as a HR professional, I have interviewed a whole lot of candidates, made many job offers as well as promoted and grown many people in their career. Throughout this period, only a handful of candidates I came across I would say knew how to market themselves and negotiate a good deal. Those being headhunted felt more confident than those who applied for advertised positions. There were quite a number indeed whom I could not offer the kind of package they were asking for from a fairness point of view as I knew I would be underpaying them for the skills they would be bringing onboard. I have seen many candidates conduct an excellent interview only to look helpless when the money question is asked.


We think you would be a perfect fit to this role, but at this stage it would be useful to know what your salary expectations are.


Bad answer

Thank you very much for showing confidence in me, I know you have internal salary structures, how much is on offer?

The moment you utter these words you are at the mercy of the recruiter. You are making them believe since they have a salary range and benefits structure, you are happy to fit in and accept what they give you- maybe that’s not what you meant, but it is what they are likely to think.

Right answer

Thank you for showing confidence in me. With my kind of skills, experience and knowledge on what the market is paying for similar roles, my expectation is...


Thank you for showing confidence in me. With my kind of skills and experience while also considering that I am looking to move to an organisation where I can settle and grow in my career, my expectation is...

Remember it is a negotiation – just like you would negotiate for a car, house or a plot. Drop a reasonable figure and be ready to discuss and see if you can meet somewhere comfortable.

You should not be shy to discuss a salary with a potential employer, recruiters who would say 'the candidate seems so money minded' have come to value candidates who can demonstrate that they know what they are worth and are willing to negotiate for a fair reward.

Here are some tips on how to negotiate and nail that package you have dreamt of for a while:

  • Get some information on what the market (peer organisations) would be paying for a similar role. In many cases, employees change jobs because they want to grow in their career, you don’t change your job to go and do the same thing you have done for the past 3 years at another company. But you aspire to grow, and so when the opportunity comes, try and find out how much the role is paid. Any salary survey data you can come across would be useful, if not use your networks and ask about benefits structure, career growth opportunities of a potential employer before you jump in.

  • Know your competitive advantage and market yourself. Shift your mind from a job seeker to the professional you are. If you sell yourself too high and you have not demonstrated the skills, competence and experience to back what you are selling you will be disappointed. Ensure you know what you are great at and sell that, such that the recruiter knows what would be at stake if they let you go. Get them to a place where it will be their call to try and ensure you reach an agreement, especially to avoid losing you to a competitor.

  • Be open about your expectations from the beginning. If you know what you are worthy and you have drawn a line on what remuneration would match that worth, it is no longer impolite to state your expectations upfront before you get deep into discussions. You will come across as someone who knows what they are worth, is focused and is considerate not to waste time on discussions that would not get desired results. Here is where, during the second call or meeting you would say, "I appreciate your interest in my skills and I like where this is going, but I feel I need to let you know my remuneration expectations so that we are all clear about this as we proceed." Then state your expectation and its rationale, borrowing from previous points above.

Additionally, Many recruiters like to ask candidates to share details of their current salary. Sometimes this is necessitated by job changes where the role being performed may not be changing. It has also become a smart way for HR Managers to gather useful information from the market. Firstly,

Your salary details are personal and you should not feel pressurised to present such data.

But also withholding it may be seen negatively, like you are not honest and confident. My advise is to keep this to the very last minute and only share when you are sure your are getting the job. In situations where the new employer may have to make some payments to your current employer to secure your release, salary details may have to be shared.

Looking for that promotion?

Now, we have employees who seek internal job changes and career growth through promotions, and many may end up not getting a good deal especially if the benchmark is internal comparators.

There are advantages of growing within a familiar organisation, especially where a candidate feels the environment is supportive to their career growth, good boss, peers, business outlook, and so it is more comfortable to stay and grow. I know of a number of people who have known one employer for their entire career.

I also know for sure if you were to compare their package with others with whom they started working at the same time at similar roles, but who may have changed their employers two or three times, the remuneration profile would be different and in favour of those who change employers. This means if you are looking at building a career with the same employer, you have to negotiate that promotion harder, and since you are dealing with a team that is promoting you on merit, do not be shy to follow the principles stated earlier to ensure you get a good deal. If they don’t give you what you know you are worth, then maybe they do not deserve you.

Total Package

It is important to mention that when you are looking at a job change, you should not just focus on salary alone.

Be sure you know benefits that add value to you at each stage of your career.

For instance if you are in your late 30’s you would probably be looking for an employer with a good house purchase scheme, in your 40’s maybe a better pension scheme, while at your early years you would be focusing on cash at hand or flexible terms to accommodate evening studies. So be sure to look at total benefits package before you turn down that offer.

*Originally published on 15th May 2014.



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