Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 29 November 2020

Seven tips for negotiating your salary during the Covid-19 pandemic

Do your research, don't be pushy and agree on a figure before - not after - the contract is signed

Whether you are starting a new job or looking for a promotion in your current role, negotiating your salary could establish your financial earnings for years to come.

Haggling a pay raise can be intimidating, but it is one of the most important and difficult conversations to have early on in your career.

One of the biggest reasons people fail to do it is concern over insulting a potential employer or simply not knowing the right way to go about it.

The affect of the Covid-19 on the jobs market has also made the process even more daunting for employees or jobseekers.

Negotiating a salary in this current market is harder than ever before

Louise Vine, managing director of Inspire Selection

Louise Vine, managing director of Inspire Selection, a recruitment agency in Dubai, said having the chat before signing an employment contract is crucial.

“It is hard to get an increase once a contract is signed so a candidate should shoot for as much as possible during the hiring process,” she said.

“Negotiating a salary in this current market is harder than ever before.

“Companies are trying to save money; people already in a role have faced dramatic pay cuts.

“Now, the dilemma for employers is whether to pay new recruits pre-Covid rates or lower than average salaries.”

In the UAE, there is no provision for a minimum wage in the Federal Labour Law. As such, your basic salary is a negotiated rate between you and your prospective employer. The amount agreed to is important because it is the basis of your end-of-service gratuity pay.

For fresh graduates, Ms Vine said it was important to focus more on the role rather than the salary, as experience would determine future bargaining power.

Here, The National has put together a list of dos and don'ts when trying to negotiate a better salary.

Louise Vine, Inspire Selection. Courtesy: Louise Vine
Louise Vine said candidates should 'shoot for as much as possible during the hiring process'. Courtesy: Louise Vine

Go in prepared

If you are looking to secure a promotion, go into your review meeting prepared. Write down all the reasons why you deserve an increase. Highlight big projects that you have completed over the past 12 months.

Show your employer tangible evidence of how you have contributed above and beyond your current job role. If you have helped train or develop subordinates, mention this. And if you have been able to make cuts to expenditure, this could sway the decision towards a salary increase.

Remain professional

While your emotions may get the better of you prior to negotiating a salary, remain level-headed when speaking to your employer. They want to know why you deserve a pay rise or better starting offer based on your performance and achievements. Don’t focus on your personal needs, like the fact that your rent has gone up or childcare expenses have increased. You will make a much better case when focusing on your professional needs.

Ms Vine said, while the pandemic has affected negotiating practice and put the power in the clients' hands, the market is rebounding.

"Salary negotiations are always recommended as it could set the tone for whether you stay in a job long or short-term," she said.

Negotiating a pay raise is one of the most important difficult conversations to have in your career. Getty Images
Negotiating a pay raise is one of the most important yet difficult conversations to have in your career. Getty

Research industry salaries

Before entering a salary negotiation, Eoin Barry, senior recruitment consultant at Hays Middle East, said you should arm yourself with the right data to back up the kind of money you are asking for.

Proving that it is within the industry range shows the employer that you are serious about the position and have good industry insight.

“On the salary side of things, the biggest battle now is being realistic,” said Mr Barry.

“Do some market research and determine a reasonable salary target because offers are fluctuating due to the pandemic.”

He recommended researching how the company is performing in the current climate too.

Set a target salary

If the final salary offer is below expectation and an employer is hesitant to bargain, agree on a target increase after three or six months. Set out a list of objectives to accomplish in your probationary period and get the employer to agree to a pay revision if they are met. Most employers may suggest this be done on a gentlemen’s agreement but it is recommended to have it processed as a written agreement into the contract.

Be confident when negotiating your salary. Getty Images
Be confident when negotiating your salary. Getty

Play your cards close to your chest

When interviewing for a new job, try to keep discussions about salary off the table for as long as possible. Mr Barry said you should always refrain from mentioning money in your first interview.

“The key thing is to get the company interested in you first,” he said.

“Remember, you are probably one of many candidates interviewing for the position so you want to stand out for all the right reasons, like job suitability, experience and enthusiasm.

“The challenge is that some companies may get you to agree on a salary in the early stages of interviewing but explain that you need time to think about the potential offer.”

Once you know the company is 100 per cent interested in taking you on, you, as the candidate, have more power to negotiate a wage that suits you.

Stay positive and don’t be pushy

If you’re already in a job and are on good terms with your boss, negotiations can still be intimidating. If you are gunning for a promotion it proves you want to stay in the company for longer, which is a positive sign. Because of that, keep the conversation with your employer on a positive note.

Explain what you like about the company, how you have progressed in your current role and why you want to commit to staying there. If you start demanding things and threatening to leave, things could take a wrong turn.

Walk in with confidence

This may sound like simple advice but it is often one of the hardest to perfect. The way you enter a room can dictate how the rest of the interaction goes. If you go in prepared to state your case then you need to follow that through with simple body language. Give good eye contact, don’t stutter and show them you are confident in your role.

Updated: November 9, 2020 01:17 PM

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