You’re in a job interview and everything’s going great. The HR manager is nice, you feel comfortable and so far you have been able to answer all questions confidently. You soon get the feeling that this time, it could really work out! But then it comes, the question of all questions: „What did you have in mind in terms of salary?“
No question: Of course you have researched and thought about how much you want to gamble, but you’re getting nervous anyway. „What if my answer lowers the chances to get this job? I want to start here!” Your thoughts are overturning, your blood pressure is rising. This is the moment when you – in the worst case – give away several thousand euros a year.
How much do you want to earn in your new job, and why? Can you clearly state what you will offer the company? Talking about your own salary is a no-go in Germany, whereas for example in the US, this topic is handled in a much more relaxed way. To find out which salary is common for your desired position, ask people who have been working in this position for a longer time while also doing research online.
Please be aware that you may not be able to see the big picture. If you notice that your ideas do not reflect reality at all, be open-minded and address the problem. Maybe there is a conclusive explanation (e.g. bad order situation in the entire industry) and you would have a similar situation in any other company.
Still you should set your personal limit in advance. What salary would you need to maintain a certain standard of living? The clearer your goal, the more convincing you will be. (But don’t forget to stay realistic.)
Career starters tend to overestimate the amount of their initial salary. You’ll hear them say: “At the university we were told that we can expect xy€ as a yearly salary.” The reality often looks very different, as the salary depends on several factors, such as company size, competitors, personal qualification, financial situation of the company, and current economic situation.
If the initial offer seems too low anyway, the way to go is to ask for certain additional services (BahnCard, gym membership, education and training, …). Although this is also going to cost your future employer money, it will at the same time grant him certain tax benefits. The chances that your employer might agree to this aren’t too bad!
Remember that you still need to be realistic. If your commute to work takes ten minutes, you might not need a Bahncard 100.
Salary negotiations are a game that your counterpart most likely has played a thousand times, while this might be your first one. This can be pretty intimidating. Trying to look at it in a different way might make it easier for you: The perspective of HR managers is normally quite rational. “What does the applicant offer? And what is the company willing to pay for it?” While you can’t influence the answer to the second question, you should keep the first question in mind throughout the whole application process. “What do I offer this company? Why should I be hired?”
Self-marketing starts with the cover letter and becomes more important with each application phase. And even if the subject of salary negotiations makes you sweat, never let it show. Be confident and learn from your counterpart.
With these three tips in mind, you will master every salary negotiation.