Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

7 Steps to Negotiating a Higher Salary From Your Current or Future Employers

By Anthony Hughes | Jun 17, 2015 | Candidate Tips

First things first:  As with anything in life, if you don’t ask you don’t get.

So, the worst way to go about getting a salary increase is to sit idly by and wait for your employer, new or current, to offer it to you on a plate.

Put it this way – you’ll be waiting for a very long time.

People are in business to make money and unfortunately, that means that (in most cases) they’ll pay you as little money as they can get away with.

Think about it; if you go into a salary negotiation in a performance review perhaps, and you undervalue yourself and ask for a £2K pay rise, it’s unlikely that your boss will pipe up and offer you the £5K you actually deserve.

It’s just business.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that employers aren’t willing to offer you more. They may just need a little nudge in the right direction.

So, to help you on the way, below we show you how to properly negotiate a pay rise either at your current workplace or following a new job offer.

(Click HERE to skip to our section on “How to Negotiate a Higher Salary After a Job Offer.”)

How To Negotiate A Pay Rise At Your Current Workplace.

Before we go any further, there’s one question you need to ask yourself:

Do you actually deserve a pay rise?

Employers aren’t going to hand over more money willy-nilly and you’re going to have to prove yourself worthy.

If you’re not worthy, then there’s no point asking at all.

  • Have you gone above and beyond your stated job role?
  • Have you been doing your current job for at least six months?
  • Have you made a real and noticeable difference to the company?

If the answer is yes, then you probably deserve a pay rise and here’s how to get one.

1. Benchmark yourself.

Research how much you’re actually worth so that you can ask for a reasonable sum of money.  It’s really important that you have a clear idea of exactly how much someone else in your position in another company is likely to get paid.

Recruiter Pro Tip:

We benchmark salaries all of the time and a nifty little trick is to use Indeed as a guide.

Search for job adverts that advertise the same role as you’re currently doing and see how much they offer applicants.

Are you currently getting paid fairly?

Your employer may try to decrease the pay rise you request, so to combat that, it’s worth asking for a little more than you genuinely want, giving you a little room to negotiate.

2. Organise the meeting.

Try not to trick your boss into a salary negotiation ambush.

Give them advanced warning that you’d like to discuss your salary expectations and schedule in at least a one hour slot at a time that pleases them.

If you know your boss well, try and schedule the meeting for a time when they’re likely to be in a good mood!

3. Be prepared.

You absolutely must be prepared to fight your corner during a salary negotiation because it’s highly unlikely that your boss will say yes without some kind of evidence of your value to the company.

This is likely to be true, even if they know how great an employee you are!

I recommend putting together an A4 sheet, detailing all the ways you’ve contributed, gone above and beyond and had great results so that you can use it to sell yourself.

It’s also worth considering the positive influence you’ll have on the business in the future, not just what you’ve achieved in the past.

Whatever you do, don’t go in empty handed!

Give your employer a clear incentive to pay you more money and keep you happy!

4. Practice makes perfect.

When you enter any kind of negotiation, especially salary, you’re going to want to be comfortable, calm and collected.

The best way to prepare yourself is to practice with someone you trust and ask them to ruthlessly critique your approach.

That way you’ll know exactly what you’re going to say.  You could even practice in front of a mirror if you’re that way inclined.

It’s important to remember that the best negotiators are able to give the impression that they’re prepared to walk away if they don’t get what they want.

Whilst that might not be what you really want to do, you need to give the impression that there are plenty of employers out there desperate for your services, and that if need be, you will leave the business.

Being able to pull that off takes practice and a lot of the next point…

5. Be confident.

You’ll undoubtedly feel nervous, but hopefully when you’ve prepared yourself and practiced, you’ll feel a little more confident because…

…confidence is everything when it comes to negotiating.

If your boss thinks that you’re unsure or that they can walk all over you, they’ll have the upper hand and that could lead to an out-and-out rejection or a limitation of your pay rise.

Keep eye contact, sit up straight and be firm, without threatening and you’ll ooze confidence.

6. Be positive.

There’s nothing worse than an employee who’s overly negative, even with good reason to be so.

Don’t rush into your meeting, all guns blazing, citing your workplace woes and frustrations as the reason you deserve a pay rise.

Emotions won’t get you anywhere.

This will just create tension and animosity and is unlikely to get you the result you desire.

Rather, as we mentioned earlier, cite all of the value you have added and can add for the company in the future.

7. Be ready for a ‘No.’

No matter how closely you stick to the 6 rules we’ve outlined above, you still may have to face a ‘no’ from your employer.

In this event, you need to remember three things:

a) Don’t get emotional.  Getting upset, frustrated or even angry is not going to help your case.  If anything, it’ll push your boss in the opposite direction, especially if they think you can’t cope.

b) Ask why.  You deserve to know why your request for a pay rise has been declined.  It’s then up to you to decide whether their reasoning is sound.  If not, feel free to openly disagree and hold your ground, as long as you remain professional and calm.

c) Stick to your guns.  Just because they haven’t said yes now, doesn’t mean they won’t say yes at a later date, so it might be worth asking your boss when you can next review the decision together.

d) Be prepared to leave.  If your boss can’t give a good reason for their rejection and you think they’re being unfair, then it might be time to move yourself on.  Don’t directly tell your boss that’s your intention though, just imply that it is now an option for you.

How To Negotiate A Higher Salary During A Job Offer.

Your salary is one of the first things you should ask about before accepting a job offer (if your new employer hasn’t already told you, that is.)

So, what salary are you looking for exactly..?

Lots of candidates wince at the idea of salary negotiation during the interview and with good reason; it’s entirely unnatural to be so open about money, especially when you’re also worried about offending your interviewer and losing the job opportunity altogether!

But stop worrying.

Your interviewer is entirely prepared for some sort of salary negotiation and it’s important that right off the bat, when they ask you that simple question, you know how to answer!

(Although it’s critical that you’re polite and maintain your interview etiquette!  For more details check out our recent blog: The 10 Simple Rules of Appropriate Interview Etiquette).

1. Benchmark yourself.

At some point in the interview process, you’ll be asked about your salary expectations and at this point, it’s very important that you answer well.

  • If you ask for too much, it may put the interviewer off hiring you.
  • If you ask for too little, they’re likely to offer you too little.

So you must state the right (and fair) amount.

Indeed advert for an IT Director: Salary £90,000 - £100,000Recruiter Pro Tip:

We benchmark salaries all of the time and a nifty little trick is to use Indeed as a guide.

Search for job adverts that advertise the same role as you’re currently doing and see how much they offer applicants.

Then choose a figure at the higher end of the scale, leaving you with wiggle room if your potential employer attempts to negotiate.

Studies have shown that the first person to mention a value during a salary negotiation will establish the upper hand, due to an innate ‘anchoring bias‘ so it really is in your best interests to speak first.

2. Be prepared.

Following the successful interview, it’s likely that you’ll either receive a call or email offering the job, with a proposed salary.

Some candidates get tempted to accept the offer, regardless of salary…don’t!

If they’ve offered you substantially less than you desire, then it’s time to start negotiating (best done via the telephone) but first, get yourself ready with…

  • Evidence that others, with similar experience, in the same role are getting paid more than the offered salary (IE. Job adverts stating so).
  • A list of skills, attributes and experience that show exactly how you’re going to add value to the business which is worth more than the offered salary.
  • Your own expectations; know exactly how low you’re willing to go before bailing so that you can make a practical decision if and when it comes to it.

Then it’s time to make them an offer they can’t refuse….

3. Practice makes perfect.

If you’re unskilled at the art of negotiating, it might be worth seeking the help of a friend or family member so you can practice your technique, before picking up the phone.

Inexperienced negotiators often come across heavy-handed or lacking confidence altogether…neither will put you in the position of power and it could breed uncertainty within the interviewer.

Ask whoever gives you a hand practicing to critique your technique, with particular regard to how persuasive your arguments are.

As before, you’ll want to create the impression throughout the negotiation that your services are in demand, and that if you don’t get what you want, you’ll go somewhere else, even if the job in question is your dream job.  Don’t let that be a reason for someone to walk all over you.

You can always go back and accept their ‘final offer’ if need be.

4. Be confident.

Don’t make the call until you’re prepared, practiced and fully comfortable with what you’re going to say.

This should ease your nervousness and allow you to be more self-assured.

Now, you won’t be able to make eye-contact or portray positive body language over the phone so it’s important that you exude confidence in your tone of voice and the content of what you’re saying.

Don’t ramble on; be succinct and to the point, without being brash and unfriendly!

5. Don’t get emotional.

Negotiations of any kind can be intense, but it’s vitally important to keep your cool!

Giving away signs of anger or aggression, upset or frustration isn’t professional and will also  imply that you can’t handle the pressure.

Be professional and calm in all discussions and try not to appear demanding.

6. Get all of the facts.

If you’re a bit disappointed with your ‘final offer’, but could be swayed, then ask about other compensation the opportunity would offer.

Asking for a full (written) breakdown of the benefits and perks as well as salary could make the decision easier for you!

It could also give you something else to bargain with; ‘so you’re not willing to go above £20K but would you be willing to throw in an extra week’s holiday?

(Be polite! Else this could come across a little cheeky!)

7. Stick to your guns!

A negotiation implies a two-way discussion, aimed at reaching some sort of amicable solution, so if your potential employer’s counter-offer is lower than you’re willing to take, tell them so and move on with your job search.

Don’t accept a job offer if you’re not happy with the starting salary, because…

  • It’s much easier to negotiate prior to actually working with a company (you’re an asset they actually want).
  • There’s simply no point taking a job you’re not 100% happy with; you’ll end up leaving within a year!
  • You might even find that, your initial rejection will push your potential employer to increasing their offer.

Always follow through with your negotiations, until both parties have reached a happy conclusion!


Negotiating on salary is certainly a delicate matter and as such, it’s so important that you prepare yourself and don’t make any major faux pas.

Always appear interested in the position whilst conducting your negotiations!

You don’t want the hiring manager to go off you because they don’t think you’re genuinely interested in the position or because they believe you’re more interested in the salary and perks!

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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