Let’s make a deal

Rachel Smith interviews recruiter Catherine Kennedy for Seniors Life Insurance.

The reward following months of job hunting is the phone call or email you’ve been waiting for: a job offer! As you’ll know if you’ve been in this position, it’s exhilarating, exciting and nausea-inducing all at once.

Now comes the awkward bit: negotiating the job offer to your liking. Going through a recruiter can make the process easier, but you can take charge of it yourself and come out on top too, says Catherine Kennedy from recruitment company People2People.

“Even though salaries have been pretty stagnant for a long time, they’re starting to lift a little at some organisations and there’s often the chance to negotiate there,” she says. “You can also negotiate around flexibility, adjusted hours or other benefits like additional leave or access to healthcare. So it’s not just the dollar amount you have to play with.”

So what’s new? 

A lot has changed on the job hunt front. Employers are struggling to find the right people and to retain existing workers right now. The pandemic has caused a seismic shift in what’s important to jobseekers too, says Catherine. “In the past couple of years, organisations have realised that it’s very much a two-way street in terms of the jobseeking process.”

Employers recognise they need to articulate why they’re a good organisation to work for and offer a positive culture. Plus, jobseekers say ongoing learning is very important, no matter how old they are. “Opportunities to cross skill and get different experience helps them in their own career, so they want to know those things are on the table,” says Catherine.

Starting negotiations 

At offer stage, there will usually be a verbal discussion around the parameters of the role. Once both parties have agreed, the offer is put in writing and you’ll review the fine print. 

“My advice before that final offer is put on the table is to try to get some understanding around the offer and what the job looks like with remuneration and conditions — and most employers will put that forward as well because they don’t want to go through two or three rounds of interviews and realise there’s a misalignment in expectations,” Catherine says. 

Being transparent and knowing what you want when faced with a job offer are critical, as late-stage negotiations are one of the main things that drag out the recruitment process. “This was also one of the biggest frustrations for hiring managers in a recent report we did,” adds Catherine.

Money talks 

Salary is a big consideration for people but bringing it up at the start of the interview as soon as you’ve sat down can make you look like you’re only out for yourself, warns Catherine. “If you’ve had positive feedback, a second interview and indications they’re keen to progress with you, I’d say, ‘Could you give me an indication of the salary range for this position so I can make sure we’re on the same page with that?’”

And if you want to try and negotiate upwards on the salary offer, again, being informed about the market and sharing some insights around different opportunities that are paying at a particular level can help.

She also suggests being open to different ways to structure a package, too. “We recently placed an older candidate who brought additional skills to the role — and because the organisation had a particular budget they needed to work within, he agreed to a four-day week. They got his skills, and he got the rate he wanted plus a bit of work-life balance.”

Negotiate flexibility

Although not every role has the luxury of flexibility, it’s something many jobseekers want. And employers are waking up to the fact that the rigid, working five days from the office rule doesn’t fly anymore — especially if they want an engaged workforce.

“Employers understand that employees want to feel like they’re trusted and are in a role where they’re not being micromanaged all the time,” Catherine explains.

“For the candidate, this might involve reaching an agreement about the outcomes and the kind of productivity that needs to come from the position, and putting forward a bit of a business case about how you’ll meet the job objectives.

“If you want to work from home two days a week, you might say, ‘I’ll focus on the detailed reporting-type work off-site for two days per week, and be in the office for the more interactive aspects of my role.’”

When to ask? Through the process rather than at the end — especially if you’re very firm that you only want to commute into an office, say, three days per week.

3 tips for negotiating a pay rise in your current job 

By Catherine Kennedy 

1. Plan the conversation 

This isn’t something to throw at your boss in the kitchen while you’re both making a cuppa, or in the heat of the moment. You want to book a meeting, set that time aside. Planning it is the respectful thing to do.

2. Know your worth 

Get informed about what’s realistic in the market and the salary level for the type of skills you have and the sort of work you do, to help you bring something objective to the conversation.

3. Think commercially 

Before initiating the pay rise conversation, be aware of the achievements you’ve had. It’s about saying, “This is my value and what I’ve brought to the business; this is why I think it’s reasonable my salary is increased.” A smart employer will want to hold onto a high performer and match what’s reasonable in the market.

If your family relies on your income, then it’s a good idea to think ahead and prepare for the unexpected if you’re suddenly no longer around. Help protect your family financially with Seniors Life Insurance.