Negotiating Remuneration

While not the only factor to help you decide on whether to take up a job offer, pay is still a major factor.
Sarah Si
Sarah Si
Editor, gradsingapore
Negotiating Remuneration

There are a number of ways in which graduates can estimate their worth, from the degree they hold to the skills they may have picked up before entering the workforce. So how can you come up with a final number? Among a plethora of options to help you, Glassdoor stands out, as does PayScale. Both tools calculate your estimated worth using your location, employer, skills, and years of experience; PayScale even gives you a glance at your bonus compensation. Alternatively, you can talk to recruiters at networking events or career fairs.

But arriving at this number is one thing. Negotiating with your prospective employer to get a wage that reflects your worth is another.

Salary negotiation – a sensitive subject

Many Millennials and early Gen Z’s grew up in a world that reverberated with the aftershocks of the 2008 global financial crisis, leaving the former mired in debt and the latter doing their best to avoid it. As such, according to a survey done by NerdWallet between 2012 and 2015, a mere 38 per cent of Millennials opened salary negotiations upon receiving an offer for a job, despite most hiring managers indicating that they were expecting to discuss the topic.

L’Oréal is one of the companies ready and waiting to negotiate remuneration with graduate hires, with Head of Talent Acquisition, Kingley Lim, advising, “Graduates should be open-minded and have done their market salary research based on the role that they are applying for, and speaking on the topic when the recruiter initiates it.”

This, according to Lim, allows them to “better position themselves with concrete facts and evidence when it comes to salary negotiations.”

Substantiating yourself

While there are numerous ways in which graduates can substantiate themselves, as covered earlier in the article, Lim also has a few suggestions.

“I recommend graduates base their figures on three factors,” he said. “The value creation you can bring across to the company, how you are aligned to the team values and dynamics, and your individual ability to grow in the business over the next three to five years.” But while having an estimate of your worth in terms of remuneration is useful as it is an important aspect of the workplace, it is not the be-all and end-all. For instance, job satisfaction is something graduates can look to as recompense as well.

At the same time, though, you should not inflate your sense of self-worth. According to Lim, “Graduates should be realistic and adapt their individual expectations to include other factors, such as the people and the culture of the organisation.”

Getting through the negotiation

After getting a sense of what your estimated worth is, it is time to negotiate. A successful negotiation often comes down to ease and practice, so before pitching during an actual mediation to a prospective employer, run through your entire spiel with career coaches and trusted friends.

Do not allow fear to keep you from taking the lead in negotiations after the recruiter opens the topic. Salary negotiation is a frightful thing, but what is even worse than negotiating your salary is not negotiating it. After all, a famous study by Linda Babcock revealed that those who negotiated were able to secure a seven per cent increase in their first salary.

The estimate of the worth you have of yourself likely includes a range, so when negotiations have opened, ask for something close to the top. Keep in mind that your prospective employer will try to negotiate it down, so give yourself some wiggle room. However, in the midst of it all, store the exact number you want in mind and prepare an explanation of why it is reasonable on your end.

Crucially, create a “walk away point” – a final offer that is so low, there is no option other than turning it down – for yourself, whether fuelled by feeling good about the wage you are bringing in, financial need, or simply market value. Walking away is not easy, but it is important that you know when to do it in order to keep from short-changing yourself.

A piece of advice

Stay open-minded and flexible throughout the recruitment process, acknowledge other perks an employer is willing to offer you as well, and do not turn down other forms of compensation, whether it is in skills building or otherwise.

“While it is important to negotiate for a reasonable remuneration, consider long-term benefits rather than just monetary,” Lim summarised. “Remain humble and ready to learn and grow with the company.”