How to negotiate a starting salary

If you have been offered a scientific job the next step will be to negotiate a salary. Negotiating and discussing your salary requirements is the most difficult part of the interview process for many job seekers. The fear is that you:

  • Price yourself too high and risk losing the job
  • Under value yourself and the accepted salary is too low.

At some point in the interview process you will have been asked what your salary expectations are but you may feel concerned about entering into a negotiation about your worth with your potential new employer.

Here are some simple tips on how to negotiate a starting salary:

  1. Do research

Research the average salaries and salary ranges for similar jobs in your area, industry, and seniority level.

  1. Make sure you completely understand the job

Ensure that you know what the job involves, all the responsibilities you will undertake and what the organisation expects from you.

  1. Understand the organisation

Make an effort to understand the HR processes and review structure of the company, it could be that they review salaries often in which case this may effect how much you are happy to accept. If this is a scientific job with a blue chip organisation then they will have a robust HR system in place.

  1. Analyse why they want you

If you understand why they want you and what puts you apart from the other candidates then you can use this when it comes to negotiation..

  1. Have a ‘base’ rate:

Using the information you have collated so far, decide on a base rate. This is the lowest rate you would be happy with, and can afford to accept.  When thinking about what this will be it’s worth working out what your monthly bills equate to, how much it would cost to commute to work and any other financial commitments you might have.

  1. Have an ‘ideal’ rate:

This is the rate you think you are worth. Again check your salary research to ensure you are pricing yourself correctly for the skills and experience you bring.

  1. Present the range between your ‘walk away’ and ‘ideal’ and explain the variation

When it comes to the point when you are discussing salary expectations share the base rate and ideal rate. Then you can provide them with a reason for the variation between the two i.e. “The reason I have given you a salary range is because depending on the role, the responsibilities involved and how well that matches my own experience and skill set will determine where within this range I best fit for any given position. However, money is not my core motivation, I am also keen to grow and develop. So I am willing to be flexible on my salary, depending upon the decision.”

  1. What to do if they opt for the ‘base’ rate salary

It’s quite a common for companies to offer you your base rate but you don’t have to take it. You can ask for more money, unless your prospective employer states that the salary is non-negotiable.

  1. How to negotiate

“Thank you for choosing me for this role, I am very excited about joining your team. However I do feel I need to speak to you about the offered salary. Whilst I really want to accept the job at this rate, it’s on the low side of my income needs which would make life very challenging for me. I was hoping to get ‘____’. This salary would ensure that I could give you 100% without the worry of how I will cover my expenses. If you would be willing to agree this salary then I would make sure you felt you were getting good value for money. Would this be possible?”

It is very easy to feel intimidated whilst having salary conversations with a prospective employer, particularly if its the perfect scientific job. But you are essentially a one person business and as such need to value your skills and experience. Being confident at negotiation is a vital component to long term professional success, so you might as well start learning now!

Now you have been offered the perfect science job and negotiated your salary, its time to think about what you need to do to be noticed at work 

Read our handy advice article to make sure you standout.