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6 strategies to negotiate your salary

By Debra Wong, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants

Earn what you’re worth with these expert tips.

It’s that time of the year again — where performance reviews are finalised and a year-end bonus may have arrived in your paycheck. But why settle for bonuses when you can make a case to increase your overall pay?

According to a survey by Robert Half, 55% of professionals surveyed tried to negotiate a higher salary in 2019. Although this figure is encouraging, it still means that almost half of you aren’t negotiating — and might lose out more on potential earnings throughout your career.

Negotiating your salary may seem scary, but it can be done successfully if you know how to go about it. Here are six strategies to get you started:

  • Do your research. Find out what other people with your experience and credentials make. Seek insight from diverse sources —  Seek insights from diverse sources – for example, you may find that professional trend reports or salary guides. For example, as a CIMA member or student, you can attend networking events and use tools such as the CIMA Salary Insights to find out what your peers earn.
  • Seek common ground. According to Sara Laschever, co-author of Women Don’t Ask, a collaborative, problem-solving approach to negotiation tends to produce better agreements for both employer and employee. She advises professionals to consider employers’ needs and ask for clarity. “Asking questions is a key part of negotiations because you show that you care about their problems,” she said.
  • Spell out your worth. In negotiation, just like accounting, numbers matter — so use any awards, client feedback and colleague recommendations to your advantage. No matter how small these accolades may  be, they all add up, helping you earn credibility and prove your value to your company.
  • Look beyond salary. If your company can’t increase your pay, don’t fret just yet — you might be able to negotiate a better overall package. Look into titles, resources, being put on high-visibility projects, as well as flexibility and work-life options. Tackling your overall package from multiple angles helps give your employer more options to compensate you for your hard work.
  • Have practice negotiations. If you’re worried about the negotiation process, you can calm your nerves beforehand by acting it out with a trusted friend or family members. “Brief the other person, tell them about what makes you nervous, and run through the conversation several times. With enough practice, you’ll feel more prepared when the actual negotiation happens,” Laschever said.
  • When in doubt, ask for more money rather than less. According to Laschever, over the course of a career, where pay rises are typically built on your previous salary, even an additional 10% pay rise adds up as you progress in your career. She advises to avoid naming your ‘minimal’ amount, as that’s what you’ll often end up getting. Instead, ask for 10% –30% more than your acceptable baseline amount — what you get out of a negotiation is directly correlated to what you’re aiming for.

This post was adapted from an October 2019 article in FM magazine, Salary negotiation strategies to boost your income by Hannah Pitstick.