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SALARY NEGOTIATION TIPS FOR CONSULTANTS

Are you the type to negotiate your future salary with the new employer or the one to simply say yes to the first offer on the table? When asked what your salary expectations are, do you give the recruiter a number? If so, does the number reveal the amount you really want or the amount you will take?

These are just some of the things you need to think about as you are going into the final part of the job interview – the salary negotiation. If you tend to accept the first offer without even trying to get a better one, just think of all the candidates who get interviewed by the same recruiter who do the same thing on a regular basis. And the majority of people – of the candidates who have already convinced the recruiter that they can add value to the company and that they are the number one choice for the job – accept this by default. Recruiters, being experienced negotiators, may in fact be so used to people agreeing to the first number that they may even offer you less than the job is worth to save the company some cash.

Even if this is not the case, not trying to land on the higher end of the pay scale is always an opportunity missed – and you may not get a new one until the first performance review. Before it comes to that, try out these five easy steps and see if you can negotiate a better offer for yourself.

1. DO NOT REVEAL YOUR CURRENT SALARY

Employers and recruiters will sometimes ask you to reveal your current salary in order to assess where you would really fit in. Not only is this a way for them to see what numbers they are dealing with, it is also a helpful piece of information that tells them – in a less overblown way than your CV does – how far you have gotten professionally, where you really may fit in their company and what the natural next step is in your career.

Do not answer this question if you can help it. If your current salary is less than what the new job is worth, the recruiter may use it to trim the numbers during the negotiations, so make sure you stress that you wanted to be compensated in the amount your new job and all the responsibilities it entails are worth. If, on the other hand, your old job was paid better and you are moving down because money is no longer a priority to you, the recruiter may assume that you are overqualified and that you will not accept the job offer when you find out how much the job pays.

2. KNOW THE SALARY RANGE

Every position in a consultancy firm comes with a more or less defined salary range. You would be well advised to find out what that range is before the interview, so that you know where the limits are when negotiating your salary and how much the job is worth on the market to begin with.

Needless to say, you also need to know the numbers for your own set of skills and area of expertise – know exactly how much your skills are worth and what the demand is for them on the job market. Knowing the market value of your skills and of the position for which you are applying is the starting point for salary negotiation.

First of all, you need to find out what the salary range is for the job in the geographical area where it is advertised. You may find our salary calculator quite useful in this respect.

3. KNOW THE COMPANY

The other thing you need to get familiar with is the general business climate in the company you are applying for. Any firm's business results are usually readily available in the financial reports and a lot of relevant information tends to come up if you just type the company's name on Google News and hit the search button.

For more subjective information on the climate in the company – both in terms of business results and employee satisfaction – it pays to look up online forums where the employees hang out and ask them a few questions about what to expect. If the company likes to overpay its employees to keep them for the long haul, that's useful information for the salary negotiation. If the working hours are longer than the job description lets on, that may also be something for you to take into account. If the company gives consultants opportunities for further training, development, networking or advancing their skills and career in some other way, that's another thing for you to consider that might help you decide if these are the right conditions for you.

4. DO NOT SAY YES TO THE FIRST OFFER

One thing you may find interesting is that every year, a number of people inadvertently get better offers than they would ordinarily ask for by honestly saying that they need to think some more before making the final decision or simply by not immediately agreeing to whatever sum the recruiter throws out there, but pausing to reflect on it. Letting the recruiter know – not necessarily in words – that they expected a better offer. Of course, you could also flat out ask the recruiter if the offer was open to negotiation.

If you know for a fact that you are the recruiter's top choice, then you probably need to be aware of the fact that it is more likely for him or her to hire the best candidate than to save the company a few extra pounds. Assume that, to the recruiter, the number he or she throws on the table is just the beginning of the salary negotiation, not necessarily the final sum that the company is willing to pay to hire a quality candidate. Not jumping at the first offer can't hurt you at this point and is the only way for you to find out if you can negotiate a better salary.

5. SALARY EXPECTATIONS - DO NOT MENTION A NUMBER

If the recruiter inquires about your salary expectations prior to the last interview – either in the job advertisement or over the phone – it is best that you dodge the question. Do not mention any numbers in the job application. Either skip the question completely, or put ''market value'' instead of a number, or say that it depends on the package of benefits. Do not give a number to the recruiter before you know for sure that you have made the short list. Even then, it is a better idea to respond by asking, for instance, how much the job is worth to the company or by giving them a salary range rather than a number.

In this way, you are letting them know that you have done your research, you know what you are worth and what the job is worth and the ball is in the employer's corner. Another reason why you should not bring up an exact number is that you never know that the company would not give you more – yes, some companies do that – than you asked for. In a more unfortunate scenario, you may end up asking for a sum that is significantly over the salary range for the job you are applying for and the recruiter may think that you are overqualified. Of course, this cannot happen if you have done your homework in advance.

If pressed for a number during the final stage of the job interview, giving the recruiter a range instead is always a better way to go. Build the range around the number you are going for: from the minimal pay you would sign on for to 20 percent more than the salary you want.

If the recruiter's response is too discouraging, simply mention that you would be open to discussing extra benefits instead. Not all consulting companies are open to salary negotiation once they have made you an offer.

Sometimes, instead of getting the extra bucks, there really are other factors you may consider worth negotiating, so make sure you know what your options are and what kind of benefits may be on the table – a signing bonus, longer vacations, a company car, allowance, stock options and life insurance schemes, free membership in various trade associations and clubs, etc.

 

Negotiating even just a little more than what was initially offered can make a difference, as anyone with a savings account is well aware of. If you handle the main part of the interview well and leave a good impression – as, by this stage, you probably have – the employer or recruiter is more likely to allow more latitude when the time comes to discuss your future compensation. Why not go for it?