Once an employer has decided to hire you, they will make an offer. This could be an email with a full contract attached, or it could be an initial phone call letting you know that you’ve been chosen as the successful candidate and advising the salary they want to pay you.

Remember that you can always choose to negotiate, however where there is a high level of competition – for example, you are competing against many other people with similar skills, background and experience – negotiation is less likely to work.  In this case, weighing up salary against other aspects of the job on offer – opportunities for training, gaining experience, learning about a new industry etc. – will help you to make a decision.  There may also be opportunities for a pay rise after you’ve been in the role for a while.

► Negotiating an offer of employment diagram (PDF)

  • when the job has a salary range or no salary information
  • if you feel it’s below the industry standard or legal requirements
  • your skills and experience are unusually matched to the job, and you know these are rare

Preparation can give you the confidence to negotiate effectively.

  • Understand the duties of the job and the worth of these duties.
  • Practice articulating your professional worth. You must be able to explain why your skills, experience and knowledge are worth the extra money.
  • Research the company’s performance to decide whether a pay negotiation is possible. For example, it may be unlikely if a company has experienced significant financial loss.

Employers may start with a slightly lower amount than they could pay, but your goal is to uncover the most they’re willing to pay.

  • Negotiate at the end of the interviewing process, when they have decided they want you.
  • Never be the first to mention an amount. If employers ask “What kind of salary are you looking for?” deflect the question back to them. 
  • Start with your highest amount.
  • Restate your value, drawing on your skills and capabilities. Show your worth!
  • If the employer makes the first offer, ask for time to think it over.

If you’re happy with the offer you, accept it and make sure all the conditions are in writing and signed by both parties. It is particularly important to have this before you leave another job.

If you can’t come to an agreement with employers, decline the offer graciously and thank them for their time. It’s a small world and you may encounter them in the future.