Saturday, April 13, 2024

How you can get a higher salary than you’ve been offered in a new job interview

Peninah Mumbi, 34, had just secured a job as a data analysis officer at a Nairobi-based telecommunications firm in March 2022.

Although the firm was offering a salary of Sh. 60,000, Peninah was determined to eke out a minimum salary of Sh. 80,000. “I was convinced this was the salary I needed to accommodate my lifestyle in Nairobi,” she says.

During negotiations, Peninah was asked why she needed a salary higher by Sh. 20,000. “I simply told the interviewer that it was what would be rightfully due to me. It was what I needed,” she confides. Despite having a recommendable performance track at her former workplace, Peninah was not hired.

“The employer did not ask me to go and wait for their feedback. Instead, he termed my salary demands as greedy,” she says. Granted, many of those seeking entry into new jobs will often find themselves walking on a tight rope in negotiating for a better pay.

In any case, many interviewees do not how to ask for a higher pay, and those who do will often find themselves walking in Ms. Mumbi’s shoes.

According to Perminus Wainaina, the managing director of recruiting firm, Corporate Staffing, it is easy to come out as money-oriented rather than skills-oriented during salary negotiations.

“If you ask for too much, and remain adamant about it, your employer will be left wondering if you are coming in to deliver or to milk the company,” he says.

According to Mr. Wainaina, the first step in salary negotiations should begin long before you meet your employer. “You must begin by understanding the operating industry, the size and position of the firm you’re engaging with.

For instance, if you are an accountant, you cannot pitch for the same salary at an SME looking to hire an accountant as you would a multinational looking to hire an accountant,” he says.

Further, according to Forbes, you should not start to ask for a higher salary once you get the actual offer. “When you get the actual offer, you’re in no emotional shape to negotiate. All that your mind has is the new offer, which you want to lock up.”

Although many potential employees fear that their prospective employer will rescind the decision to hire them if they ask for a higher pay, Forbes notes that this doesn’t happen 99 per cent of the time.

“Ask for some time to settle without showing signs of withdrawal, doubt, disinterest or disrespect. Then use this time to research on how the company pays. This should help you come up with a more realistic figure as well as help you respond to questions on why you salary should be higher than someone else’s.” In the same vein, you will come across as better prepared.

Mr. Wainaina concurs, adding that after grasping the scope of the firm, the key to unlocking a bigger pay will be in how you expound on your skills. “You must able to prove that what you are going to bring the firm is value addition and nothing but.

If you are an accountant and is well acquainted with Kenya Revenue Authority, you may consider elaborating on how you can bring your experience on board to align the firm’s books with KRA’s policy more smoothly and cost-effectively,” says Mr. Wainaina.

For instance, if you are a receptionist, you can show how you are able to cover marketing. However, this must go beyond showing. “You must prove that you have the requisite skills and are willing to offer them in exchange for a higher pay than you would otherwise earn as a receptionist.”

Interestingly, Mr. Wainaina observes that through interviewing experience, an employer will hardly reject you just because you requested for an additional Sh. 10,000 on your stated salary. Nevertheless, negotiating for a better pay is a delicate balancing act.

“If the employer is offering Sh. 100,000 and you demand for Sh. 120,000 without an iota of explanation on what you’re bringing to the table, your potential employer will most likely flee thinking you’re greedy!” cautions Mr. Wainaina. Quintessential Careers, an online job-seeker’s portal, echoes Mr. Wainaina’s sentiments:

“The most common error people make is focusing on need or greed rather than value. You’ll be seen as greedy or needy if you focus solely on what you feel you need or deserve rather than your value and the value you’re bringing.”

According to Patrick Kuruga, a financial coach based in Nairobi, you will do well to approach a pay negotiation using a competitive strategy.

“Generally, people who use a competitive strategy by identifying their goals early on and having the spine to try and push for them get higher significantly higher salaries than those who sit back and compromise on their pay plan.”

He further states that you shouldn’t be afraid of articulating your pay concerns during the negotiations. Instead, state them clearly and at once. Quintessential Careers adds that you should be careful not to reveal to your employer hat you would accept.

“Some employers will ask for a salary history or salary requirement. Others will ask during a preliminary interview or on the job advert what salary you’ll be expecting. But realize that the earlier you divulge this information, the less room you’ll have to ask for a better pay when the actual offer is put on the table.”

Incidentally, this was the mistake that Lawrence Musyoka made. “My employer had advertised for a vacancy in the accounts department. He had stated that I needed to state both my current pay and what I expected to earn if I got the job. I stated my net salary of Sh. 45,000 and an expectation of Sh. 70,000 net pay,” he says, adding that his employer took him to task on why his pay ought to be nearly doubled.

“I was boxed into a corner. I had little space to negotiate and since I needed the job, I accepted the Sh. 48,000 he offered.”

Alarmingly, the hardest hit in the search for better pay are the university and college leavers. Previously, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) has lamented on the widening gap between the requisite skills and college leavers seeking job entries.

According to Mr. Wainaina, people looking to negotiate for a higher pay at the entry level are likely to get raw deals. Apparently, they do not have much of a bargaining power with which to face an employer.

I earned Sh. 5,000 as an employee; my businesses are now making Sh. 1mn annual revenues

“College leavers will have nothing to prove. They are just stepping into the market and will inevitably be viewed by the employer with a lot of skepticism,” he says. “Their only stronghold is in how they demonstrate their ability to adapt, learn and build a portfolio.”

Strikingly, there are some workers who get raw deals after leaving their previously high paying jobs. According to Mr. Wainaina, an employee will only receive a poor pay at another company if she or he does not have a career plan.

“Many of our current professionals have no career plan. In many cases, this proves to be the weak link when moving from one company to another and subsequently when negotiating for a pay,” he observes.

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