Negotiating for a salary increase is a daunting task. To make sure you are able to sell yourself effectively, do some research first before going to the negotiating table. Image Credit: Thinkstock

Dubai: Given that employees in the UAE are eyeing 3 per cent to 4 per cent higher salaries in 2022, knowing how to negotiate a higher salary is crucial to making most of any such eventuality this year.

The above forecasts, put together by recruitment agency Cooper Fitch and HR consultancy Mercer after surveying 600 UAE-based organisations each, is in line with the economy witnessing a bounce back in hiring or recruitments after the pandemic-induced challenges that were faced over the last two years.

Whether you’re starting a new job or gunning for a promotion at your current one, you know that you should try negotiating your salaries. But the key question is how often does one negotiate higher salaries?

How often do you negotiate higher salaries with or without a chance to do so?

A global study conducted by Salary.com revealed that only 37 per cent of people always negotiated their salaries, while 18 per cent never did. It’s also detrimental to note that 44 per cent of the survey respondents claimed to have never brought up the subject of a raise during their employment reviews.

So even if you are in your first job or your fifth, it’s vital to know how to negotiate. Negotiating a higher pay is also crucial part of accepting a new position, but if candidates slip up on this step, it may cost them the job.

The reason matter experts give as to why people very rarely negotiate their pay is that most people look for a job every three years on average and negotiate a salary once or twice every three years, which is why they're not experienced in salary negotiations.

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How often do you negotiate higher salaries with or without a chance to do so?

Across four hiring-related experiments, with more than 1,500 participants worldwide, global researchers tested the implications of different negotiation strategies. Based on these experiments, here is a compiled list of six common salary negotiation phrases that were widely observed to backfire.

Salary negotiation phrase #1: “The original offer works for me.”

According to a survey by global staffing firm Robert Half, over 50 per cent of workers tried to negotiate a higher salary during their last job offer, while nearly half of job seekers didn’t negotiate their salary.

By not negotiating, you could very well be leaving money on the table; after all, the poll also found that 70 per cent of hiring managers don't expect job candidates to accept their initial salary offer.

Salary negotiation phrase #2: “My current salary is…”

Revealing what you’re earning at your current job can hurt you, hiring consultants reveal, while adding that you shouldn’t voluntarily provide that information. They also note that when you're changing jobs, you want to get paid based on your market value – not what you're earning at the moment.

But what if a hiring manager asks you what you’re currently making, career experts suggest asking what the salary range for this position is? Once answered, state what range you’re targeting. This way, you avoid setting the bar low based on your current pay, they explained in a hiring-themed research note.

Salary negotiation phrase #3: “I want more money than that.”

Another commonly mistaken phrase is asking for “more money”. Instead, it is widely recommended that you name a specific amount that you’re looking for based on market research you’ve done.

In other words, how much the average worker, with your level of experience, makes in your region. An alternate approach would be to say, “You offered me X. If you can offer me Y, I would accept the job, and here’s why I’m worth that number.”

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Another commonly mistaken phrase is asking for “more money”.

Salary negotiation phrase #4: “I need more money because I have loans to pay.”

Some global statistics indicate that one in every five households have some form of loan or the other. It can be in the form of mortgage, car payments or student debt.

This is why hiring consultants reiterate that the fact that you have loans shouldn’t be your basis for requesting a higher salary. Instead, fixate your negotiation strategy on any tangible value that you’d bring to the company.

Salary negotiation phrase #5: “I hate to ask for more, but…”

It’s often suggested by recruitment experts that you shouldn’t express regret when asking for a higher pay, because it makes it seem like you don't actually think you deserve what you're asking for.

Similarly, don’t make the mistake of saying, “I don’t know if you have room in the budget, but I could really use more money.” That makes it easy for the hiring manager to deny you, matter experts opine.

Salary negotiation phrase #6: “I have other companies trying to recruit me.”

Although having another job offer can make you a more attractive job candidate, experts say there’s a better way to leverage your position.

It is instead suggested to say: “I have a competing offer that will pay me X, but I think this job would be a better fit.” Moreover, this tactic can give the hiring manager a reason to nudge their boss to offer you a higher salary.

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Although having another job offer can make you a more attractive job candidate, experts say there’s a better way to leverage your position.

Bottom line: Stay clear of these common mistakes

1. Settling or not negotiating from the original salary offer

Like mentioned above, one mistake you can make is simply deciding to settle and accept whatever offer you receive. Research shows that many often make this mistake – either from not completely understanding the negotiation process or from a dislike or discomfort with the idea of negotiating.

Settling for a lower salary than what your experience is worth has some negative financial consequences – you'll earn less, receive smaller raises (because most raises are based as a percentage of your salary), and have a smaller pension (since pension contributions are usually a percentage of your salary).

But settling for an offer that you recognise is too low will not only set you back financially, but also exasperate any job satisfaction you have. However, in certain professions, it is expected you'll negotiate your salary.

2. Revealing how much higher a salary you would accept

Information is key to any kind of salary negotiation and a common mistake hike-seekers make is telling the employer what you'll accept, surveys show. Sometimes it is hard not to offer this information – especially if the employer asks for a salary history or salary requirement, when applying for a new job.

When interviewing for a new job, some employers ask at the preliminary interview what salary you're looking for. In all these situations, you need to carefully decide how you'll handle the situation.

Hiring-related studies have shown that the earlier you give up this kind of information, the less room, if any, you'll have for negotiating a better offer when the time arrives. So it is recommended to remain as non-committal as possible when asked about your salary requirements early in the interview process.

Dubai is among the 10 cities in the world with the highest salaries, a Deutsche Bank study said Image Credit: Gulf News

3. Focusing on need rather than value, or lack of market research

A very common salary negotiation error is focusing on what you feel you need or deserve rather than on your value and the value you bring to your existing or prospective employer. If you plan to negotiate a salary offer, do it based on research and a clear demonstration of your value to the organisation.

With the number and variety of salary resources available online, there is no reason to not know the market value for your experience. But you should also attempt to conduct research on your employer and their historical salary levels seen currently, negotiation policies and performance appraisals.

Even if you decide you don't want to negotiate salary, you'll have a better understanding of the market for your services – and the value of your work experience in the relevant market.

4. Making a salary pitch too early when being interviewed for a new job

‘The longer you wait, the more power you have’, is what multiple published authors on hiring practices reveal in their books. However, they add that there are many job-seekers who jump in too early in the process and ask about salaries and compensation during their interviews.

The ideal time for talking salary is when you are the final candidate standing – and you get the job offer. It's at that point when you can ask more specifics about salary, bonuses, commissions, health insurance, and other perks.

Matter experts view that asking at any point earlier in the hiring process can be perceived as being too focused on money – and can also lead to you having to reveal what you would be willing to accept.

‘The longer you wait, the more power you have’, is what multiple published authors on hiring practices reveal in their books.

5. Accepting a salary offer too quickly or declining a salary offer too quickly

While the interview process for a new job at times gets delayed, it's not unusual to want to accept the salary offer right when you eventually are offered one. Most employers are willing to give you some time to contemplate the job.

Hiring consultants also reiterate that it's when you get the job offer that you have the most negotiating power because the employer has selected you. So use that to be certain it's the job and salary offer for you – and consider negotiating for a better offer if you feel that it should be better.

Also, the experts add how studies show that many job-seekers reject job offers very quickly when the employer offers a salary much lower than expected. While in many cases you may be right in rejecting the offer, it's still best to ask for time to consider it before rejecting it outright.

If the money is far below the average, you may have no choice but to reject the offer. However, if the money is good, but just not as good as you would like, take a closer look at the benefits. A big mistake is declining a job offer too quickly without looking at the entire compensation package.

For example, some firms that have lower salaries offer larger bonuses or options or pay the full expense of health insurance. Remember, too, that you should be able to negotiate one or two elements of the offer to make it even stronger, matter experts opine.

6. Asking for too many changes in a counter salary offer

If the salary offer is not what you expected, you can consider making a counteroffer proposal. If you decide to make a counterproposal, it is recommended that you only pick the one or two most vital elements, not every aspect of the offer.

If the salary offer is not what you expected, you can consider making a counteroffer proposal.

If the salary is too low, focus on that aspect in a counteroffer. If you know the firm will not negotiate on salary, then focus on modifying a few of the other terms of the offer (such as additional vacation time, earlier bonus-driven performance reviews, signing bonus, relocation expenses).

However, remember that you cannot attempt to negotiate the entire offer; you need to choose your one or two aspects carefully, conduct your research, and present a short counterproposal, recruiting firms noted in their routine research.

In the end, once you have received a new salary offer that you find acceptable, the final thing you should do is ask for the final pay offer in writing, recruiters add. Although employers rarely have issues with putting the offer in writing.