You might be thinking a pay rise is out of the question given the current gloomy economic climate.
But a recruitment expert is insisting it’s not an impossible feat – as long as you avoid two very common, subconscious phrases that can immediately scupper your chances.
According to Jason Ajai from Aussie recruitment firm Talent Web, many interviewees are unintentionally pulling themselves out of the running for a fatter pay cheque simply because of their choice of words during a job interview.
“I’d say up to 95 per cent of people are really awkward when it comes to salary negotiations because unfortunately, people just don’t like talking about money,” he said.
“The majority of jobseekers use phrases like ‘open to negotiation’ and they say things like, ‘if the salary is the market rate, I’m happy to accept it’.
“I heard someone say during an interview recently, ‘I know it’s a difficult time and that salaries are down because of COVID-19, so I’d be willing to accept market value.’ But those kinds of phrases immediately devalue yourself and they typically tell the interviewer you will take less money.”
Mr Ajai said in his experience, of that 95 per cent who struggle to negotiate their pay, the overwhelming majority – around 70 per cent – were women, even when those women were more experienced and qualified than their male colleagues.
“Females typically seem to find it much harder than their male counterparts to ask for a pay increase or for the salary they deserve,” he said.
“So if you receive an offer that is less than you really want, you should negotiate or walk away until you get the salary you deserve.”
Of course, that’s easier said than done, but Mr Ajai said the best way to avoid falling into that trap was to come to your interview well prepared.
“My advice is to look at your lifestyle and come up with a salary range you would be willing to accept,” he said.
“The range should be no more than $15,000 to $20,000.
“And remember, if the salary is drastically less than what you are worth, you can expect it to take years to get back up again.”
While jobseekers might be feeling like they have less negotiation power at the moment due to the coronavirus crisis, looming recession and rising unemployment rate, Mr Ajai said that shouldn’t stop workers from landing a fair wage.
“Employers are still employing people at the moment and JobKeeper for example is allowing people to stay in work,” he said.
“Once that is pulled, there will be an influx of people into the marketplace so I would tell people not to drastically undercut themselves.
“Instead, be realistic – give yourself a salary range and then demand what you are worth.”
Mr Ajai said you should come up with the lowest salary you would be willing to consider for a particular role and then be prepared to stick to it.
But remember, that rate can vary between roles – if you apply to be a manager at a large organisation, for example, you can usually expect a higher salary than a role at a much smaller non-profit.
Mr Ajai said it was also important to factor in the expected workload once you start in the new job, and to ensure your salary demands reflect any increase in duties and hours.
“A manager working for a large organisation can expect to put in some pretty hefty days while the same person working at a business with 300 employees wouldn’t typically be expected to work the same hours,” he said.
While it might be difficult to know an appropriate salary range for your industry and experience level, Mr Ajai said a good starting position was to look at how much you will need to maintain your current lifestyle as well as your knowledge and experience, how many years you have spent in your current role and your education and training.
“If you have an employee who has worked in banking and finance for 15 years who applies for a role within the sector, they will typically be more attractive than someone coming from outside the sector – and they will likely be able to demand a higher salary coming in, as they have relevant experience,” he said.