Success on equal terms: Evaluate arguments together

The actual negotiation: Tough but fair

As soon as a common assessment system has been established for your salary negotiations, the individual arguments which should influence the amount of the salary to be determined can be discussed. I deliberately wrote “of the salary to be determined“, because the common assessment system makes it possible: You and your counterpart can examine the financial influence of each aspect in regard to its content together. Because only a fair salary is a good salary. In the end, both sides must have a good feeling about the result achieved. Otherwise, you run the risk that the agreement will not bear fruit and that trouble will soon be brewing.

This is also the intention behind the heading. You should remain assertive during the negotiations and make sure that arguments in your favor have a correspondingly positive effect on the amount of your future salary. However, there are good reasons to do this only with and never against your negotiating partner. He or she should feel respected by you in his or her considerations on the subject, even if you do not always share the same viewpoint on a particular argument. Moreover, a total agreement on all possible arguments is not at all necessary. If you, or ideally both of you, are properly prepared, the individual results will usually quickly and repeatedly point to the same ballpark figure. And of course, you can simply split the last 500-euro difference to make it easier, if all is well.

The following example illustrates this approach:

At the beginning of the salary negotiations, you agreed with your potential new boss that both of you accept the recently published “Salary Trends” report of the large staffing agency Robert Half as a reasonable point of reference. You are applying for the position of Head of Finance and the study indicates a typical range of 100k – 130k euros as the national average of factual annual salaries for your industry.

As this would be your first position as a head of a department, you do not consider the upper half of the spectrum to be relevant in your case. With reference to the outstanding credentials as a team leader in your current company and the many years of experience in the industry, you therefore propose 115k euros. Your counterpart is willing to follow this suggestion but argues that the cost of living in your region is about 10% lower than the national average and therefore offers you 105k euros. You acknowledge this but explain in this context that your annual traveling expenses alone will amount to 5k euros due to your long commute without even accounting for the time spent with it. Your future boss is aware that this would probably not be any different with another candidate and is therefore prepared to consider your argument.

In the end, the two of you agree on an annual salary of 110k euros.

So, to summarize:

During the actual salary negotiations, I will confidently present my proposals on the basis of relevant arguments relating to the agreed assessment system. I will also respect the opinions of my counterpart. If there are disagreements, I will look for solutions to them with the other side together.

If you still cannot make headway

If you suddenly discover that you seem to be going in circles with the other person during the talks and that a solution is not foreseeable, this is usually because both sides lack good data that can be used for evaluation, or because your common assessment system has not been established sufficiently.

If the former is the case, it no longer makes sense to continue any negotiations at this point. In a situation like this, it is necessary to arrange another meeting at which you and your negotiating partner will be prepared better and present sound arguments.

If it is less about the quality of the arguments and more about the lack of mutual acceptance, you both must take a step back and actually find a common assessment system first. If you fail to do so at this stage and continue the unproductive simple exchange of arguments, it is highly likely that your interview will be as unpleasant as many applicants fear so often. By agreeing on a common assessment system, you can prevent this from happening.

On February 4th, Ms. Angelika T. from Pinneberg wrote about it in her testimonial:

»I’ll be starting with a new employer soon and I’m pleased that I was able to convincingly convey my expectations in terms of salary as well.«

And with this, you have reached the end of my detailed tour. I wish you good luck with putting all those tips and tricks into practice. 🙂

If you would like to learn even more, take a look at my “toolbox”. Please don’t forget that there is also my extensive email course “How to Write a Power CV / Résumé” available at a low fee. And if you want to make your next big step in your career even easier, you can also ask me if I am currently available to support you with personal and hands-on career coaching.

On December 5th, Ms. Wessam M. from Dubai wrote to me:

»I applied your advice and managed to move to a new company. So just wanted to thank you with all my heart … your guidance and events were priceless.«