Some would say that salary negotiation is an art form.

When I first tried to ask for a raise, I wasn’t even worried about getting my desired number. Instead, I worried about offending my boss! What if I was overstepping a line or was asking for something I didn’t deserve yet?

Then, I thought, aren’t pay bumps supposed to be REWARDED, not asked for?

Salary negotiation can go many ways. You could receive your desired salary with no questions asked. But there can also be times when you may get flat-out rejected.

Working or trying to find a job that pays better in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t make things easier either! It’s true that companies are having a tough time right now, but you should still be compensated accordingly for your work.

If you’re an overthinker, take a deep breath and calm down! As long as you have a realistic salary range and have done your research, you are all set!

salary negotiation
Image credit: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

Asking to be paid more is, in my opinion, one of the most anxiety-inducing things I’ve had to ever do! However, if you don’t put your foot down and ask for the salary you deserve, you’d be doing yourself a dire financial disservice.

And girl, you deserve to get paid your worth! Read on as we hold your hand through the scary (but actually not that scary) process of salary negotiation.

Overcoming Your Self-Doubt

Tip 1: Know Your Worth

Never go in without a plan! Just like an interview, making preparations is ESSENTIAL. Doing this will not only help you build your case, but also give you confidence in your delivery!

Research plays a huge role in trying to figure out how to negotiate your salary based on your work. Try to find out what people with your experience and your expertise are commanding in the current economy. This can give you a rough idea on what the current standard is in the market!

Don’t be like me, going in with a random number I thought worked. I had asked for RM1,600 for an admin job, undercutting myself a thousand Ringgit less than the actual market rate. So ask your friends, do some good ol’ Googling. If you’re just shooting in the dark and hoping to hit your mark, your chances of success will be slim to none.

Pro tip: If you’re moving from one job to another, your asking salary range can be 2%-10% higher than your last-drawn salary. Depending on the industry you’re in and the company you are interviewing for.

Tip 2: Align Yourself With Your Company’s Goals

If you’re negotiating your salary with your existing employer, this process starts waaaaaay in advance.

As early as possible, establish your goals with your supervisor and make them quantifiable. What are the exact tasks and outcomes that constitute “success” in your role? What steps do you need to take to meet those goals?

Or, if you are negotiating with a potential employer, examine their past work. Prove that you’re familiar with their brand’s tonality and voice!

Employers may ask what projects of theirs you liked and what you thought they could improve on. So, it’s best to be prepared for this question, just in case!

Doing so will help clearly define what you need to do. When the time comes, you can come in with a list of things you did that met or even exceeded your employers’ expectations.

Tip 3: Come Up With A List

If you’ve made it to the salary negotiation stage, chances are, your employer does see your value. It’s now up to you to articulate what you’re worth and why!

salary negotiation
Image credit: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

To make coming up with a list easier, try visualising from your employer’s viewpoint. Ask yourself: Why are you worth investing in? What have you done in your current or previous role that makes you a valuable asset to the team?

Write down your answers to these questions and keep them in mind as you list down the reasons why you deserve the raise or the salary you’re asking for. If you’re asking for a raise with your current employer, your list should include answers to the following questions:

  1. Have I met the KPIs (key performance indicators) my manager has set out for me?
    1. If yes, state the results and share what you’ve done.
    2. If no, share honestly, and objectively, the following reasons:
      1. Why you were unable to meet the KPIs,
      2. Was it due to a lack of skill in a certain area?
      3. Were there operational issues that led to the delay of a project or external challenges that prevented you from achieving your KPIs?
  2. How do you plan on strengthening your weaknesses and sharpening your current strengths?
  3. What are some of the challenges you faced, and what did you do to overcome them?
  4. What are some plans or ideas you have come up with that will benefit the company? OR, what are some initiatives or projects that you’d like to spearhead?

When negotiating with a new employer, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are some of the employers’ top challenges?
  • Do you have experience that helps solve those challenges?
  • What sets you apart from other candidates for this job?

Being structured and articulate in your response to why you deserve the amount you’re asking for gives your future employer confidence that you know what you’re doing and that you are sure you can deliver on your promises.

Salary Negotiation Time

If you’re reading this 10 minutes before heading into your boss’ office, we hope you’ve already done your homework and have a game plan!

But if you don’t, fret not! Just follow this mini guide:

Step 1: Strike A Pose

I don’t necessarily mean walking into the meeting with a supermodel walk — unless you actually are trying to land a modelling gig.

I mean have a ‘power pose’ like how Amy Cuddy puts it. Power poses are ways people stand, it’s a posture mentally associated with being powerful and confident!

Check yourself out a bit in the mirror and fix your posture. Stand straighter, taller with your hands around your hips area, and raise your chin a little! Have your feet firm flat on the ground too as this raises your testosterone levels and reduces the stress hormone called cortisol! Do this so you don’t look like you’re slouching.

Step 2: Form Rapport


Image credit: Unsplash/Mimi Thian

Not everyone is all buddy-buddy with their boss, nor does everyone need to be. Regardless, forming a professional rapport or a connection with your boss could do you some good.

Always approach the negotiation as a discussion. Think of it this way: what are some things either side can compromise on to reach a favourable outcome?

A salary negotiation should never be a “give me this or I’m walking” situation. Instead, think of it as a problem-solving discussion.

Need a sample answer? I got’chu!

“During my time here as <insert position>, I have grown into my role and have fulfilled my responsibilities well. I would appreciate it if we could have a look at my compensation package again.”

At the same time, you need to know when it’s an appropriate time to negotiate! Some roles such as government or management trainee roles are highly structured and come in at a fixed salary or have set performance appraisal times. In such a situation, know when to take the deal to avoid rubbing your employer the wrong way.

Step 3: If Money Doesn’t Talk, Negotiate For Better Perks

Most companies will have a set of employee benefits they offer as part of your salary package. Say your boss agrees that you deserve a raise, but counter-offers with a lower amount, or even turns down your proposal for a raise, you can negotiate for better benefits or perks!

Pick a few options that benefit you. But how on earth do you come up with the right perks? Well, let’s sift through the list below!

List of Benefits and Perks:

  • Flexibility: Could be a 4 day work week, or 5 days but with 2 days working from home.
  • Travel Opportunities: Wanting to travel for work on a different schedule.
  • Health & Fitness: Also known as gym benefits or any form of medical insurance. One can negotiate healthcare/dental coverage or fitness stipends.
  • Workshops or Mentoring: Valuable perk to one honing their skills and knowledge to expand their professional growth and career.
  • Professional Training & Certification: One may partake in upskilling himself with certifications related to his field. Example certifications are digital marketing, business analytics, financial management etc.
  • Childcare: Covers wholly or partially the cost of childcare for children in preschool only. Works best for parents to have a healthier working arrangement and family life.
  • Educational Coverage: Negotiate to be sponsored, reimbursed or compensated for enrolling in a Masters or Phd programme.

If you’re not a natural salesperson and can’t bag the deals you wanted, don’t sweat it! There were many times I couldn’t too. For those of you asking for a higher salary in a new job, you can ask for perks when your draft offer letter or contract comes. Human Resource (HR) will typically review it over with the employer and most of the time they don’t refuse.

salary negotiation
Image credit: Pexels/Fauxels

Let’s Get That Bread

Followed every tip on this list and went through with your salary negotiation? If you managed to secure the outcome you wanted, congratulations! If not, don’t be too hard on yourself.

There’s a reason for everything; sometimes the next deal is much better than the one you previously asked for! Take it as a round of practice before your next negotiation if things don’t go the way you want it to.

For those who did get their new promotion, you must now uphold your end of the deal. So don’t be someone who is all-talk but with no game.

You’ll need to prove to your employer that they made the right decision. Remember, they could have given anyone else your promotion, so prove to them that you are someone they can lean on. Plus, the extra money should motivate you!

Don’t just go wham right after your promotion and work till you drop. Ensure you get enough rest as well, and always check in with your employer every three to four months on a performance check. During this, just ask what or how you can do better and take their replies with a grain of salt!