Tips to negotiate your starting salary

May 16, 2022

3 minutes

If you are like most people, your first job is the equivalent of a lottery ticket. The starting salary companies hiring in Kenya offer to recruits can often determine what field you will work in for the rest of your career. Negotiation skills are essential in earning a respectable starting salary. Here are tips to tactfully and confidently ask for what you want.

1) Be professional: Not only is professionalism demonstrated through your expertise but also in your delivery during a salary negotiation. It is extremely important to practice your pitch before the actual negotiation. Find an ideal person in the corporate world, preferably a business-savvy person to coach you through projecting confidence and answering random questions. 

2) Research the market: Information is your strongest ally. Find out the salary range for similar positions in different sectors, industries, and regions. Ideally, you can use salary research tools or job boards to inform your salary range. As you engage with the compensation landscape pay close attention to in-demand skills that could be a bargaining chip with your employer.

3) Know your worth: It is essential to know what your skills and abilities are worth. Be able to explain how you are more valuable to the companies hiring in Kenya than any other applicant. Employers will appreciate candidates who have done their research and know what they can offer beyond just a degree or certificate. Try asking friends in similar positions for advice on what salary is reasonable for your skill level.

4) Do not name a number first: When initially contacted by an employer on a compensation offer, do not name a number first, even if they ask you. It is very well within your right to ask for some time to thoroughly assess an offer before presenting a counteroffer or proceeding to accept the offer. This will give you time to evaluate the whole deal beyond your base salary. 

5) Know the employer’s budget: You might be deserving of your proposed salary but it is equally important to consider constraints on your employer’s end such as salary caps. Understanding this perspective will help you offer better options that could be considered for both sides.

6) Be flexible: While you should know your worth and stick to it, employers will appreciate candidates willing to be flexible. The salary range for new graduates may be much lower than what senior executives can command due to experience and education. In such an event you can creatively include negotiables like flexibility, signing bonuses, or a deferred raise if you can prove your value in a specified period. Remember to factor in your leverage and build your case, don’t sell yourself short.

7) Be realistic: It is essential that your employer understands your value proposition. Presenting a counteroffer without proper justification can prove to be unwise. Knowing your worth is the first step but also understanding your innate value in a particular position is practical.

10) Enroll for an internship: An internship is an excellent way to get a feel of the job and prove your value. Internships help graduates better understand expectations and deliverables in certain roles. This simple nugget can help you advance your career and gain much-needed experience for future roles. If you are an intern, you can negotiate for a raise or a promotion at the end of your contract period.

11) Ask for a better job title: Seek clarification on job requirements, responsibilities, and expectations to better understand if the position suits your skillset. Conduct a personal analysis of your strengths and differentiators and leverage that for a better job title. Negotiation is a conversation whose goal is to reach an agreement with someone whose interests are not perfectly aligned with yours.

Final Thoughts

Negotiating is not a walk in the park but so is taking a substandard offer out of fear. The reality is that the more you put yourself out there, the more you are self-aware and motivated to push for professional growth. Lastly, ensure the position you are negotiating for offers value beyond a paycheck.

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