15 Salary Negotiation Tips (for Architects & Professionals)
At last, you’ve got the job offer, and now you are at the point of agreeing terms, more particularly how much they are going to pay you.
At this stage, you know that you are the best of the candidates, giving you a brief window when you can push to improve your salary and benefits.
When you are an employee in a new role, you have less bargaining power than when you are at the point of employment, so don’t waste this opportunity to maximize your income.
These fifteen salary negotiation tips cover what you need to consider when negotiating the final offer from your architect job interview.
1. Be Brave
It is normal to feel a bit anxious about asking for more money. But what have you got to lose with a polite conversation?
There may be no flexibility on the salary offer, but by not asking, you are cutting off all possibility of a higher starting position.
If you don’t try to negotiate, you need to live within that salary for at least a year, and there is no guarantee that the annual salary raise will be generous.
Plus, if the starting salary is too low for your needs, you may choose to decline the job offer when a simple ask would increase the salary to the amount you need.
2. What are You Worth?
In economics, there is the concept of “opportunity cost” – what would someone else pay for the skills you have?
Your new employer wants to get a bargain and increase their profits by paying you the least amount that you will accept. That means that they offer you the bottom of the range they are willing to pay to get your skillset.
If the job comes with a salary range, you can ask for the top of the range because you have the skills and experience to do the whole job. In practice, you will agree somewhere in the middle.
Suppose you have worked a good number of years but have not yet reached the six-figure architecture salary. In that case, salary negotiations are a time to reflect and plan to put in the necessary efforts to elevate yourself to that salary bracket.
3. Confidence Sells!
No one wants a shrinking violet as an employee.
It does not matter what role you have; any position that means dealing with clients, subcontractors, and officials needs a person with enough confidence to stand up for themselves.
If you are confident that you are worth more because of your track record, then your new employer is more likely to be delighted that they have picked a confident and assertive candidate.
The key here is to be proactive (state clearly what would make you happy) and not aggressive (shouting and entitled).
4. Benchmark Your Salary
Most people move to a higher salary. Your new employer may choose to try matching your current salary – particularly if you have indicated that there is pressure on you to move during the interview stage.
Moving jobs has a range of hidden costs. You may need to spend more time and money commuting, or you may need to relocate.
A couple of ways of tackling this include asking for a relocation package, so you are not out of pocket, as well as an improved salary.
There may be times when you are relatively happy to move for the same salary – nearer location and better conditions. Still, it does not hurt to ask for a higher offer. Sometimes people move for a lower salary because they want to work fewer hours or move quickly.
Either way, your current salary is a benchmark for your job offer.
5. Check the Market
If you are in the market for a new job, you need to know the going rate for your skillset. Recruitment agencies and job adverts are excellent sources of information, as are professional surveys.
As a guideline for negotiation: the market rate plus 10-15% is a reasonable opening request as that allows the interviewer to offer a little less and still feel they are coming out where they need to be on a budget.
6. What’s the Rush?
Is your new employer under time pressure to get someone in this week or month?
The urgency to fill a position may make a difference in how much they are willing to offer you to drop everything and start the new role.
You still need to be reasonable (no one likes extortion), but if they are in a hurry, it is worth it to offer more to get you in quickly because recruitment and delays are expensive. Watch for a sense of urgency or desperation from the interviewer.
7. Be Polite and Not Pushy
State what would make you happy (salary-wise), clearly, and unambiguously.
Do it once, and then wait for a response.
It is counterproductive to be pushy at this stage. You are projecting a confident potential employee and not flagging yourself up as a potential troublemaker.
8. Ask for it All
The worst thing you can do in a salary negotiation is to drag it all out into individual asks on salary, benefits, and holidays.
Suppose you are pushing back an offer and want more; list everything you want in one go. If they ask you what would make you happy, list it all out – every single detail.
The other party will go away and calculate what it is going to cost them to employ you. Either that will come back as a straight yes, or more likely a counteroffer.
You must not agree on a salary and then go back to ask for more paid sick leave. Negotiate the whole package at the same time.
9. Don’t Be a Timewaster
Some people want a pay rise from their current employer, and they think the best way of achieving this outcome is to threaten to leave with a job offer. They expect their current employer to pay more to keep them.
This practice is unfair to the person making the job offer and is potentially a career-ending move with the current employer. The current employer may give into blackmail on this occasion, but they will protect themselves in the future.
Other job seekers like to collect job offers to start a bidding war to gain a higher salary. Again, this is a tactic that may backfire with the withdrawal of all job offers.
Be clear with your new employer that you want the job, and you are negotiating for terms you can live with because you have bills to pay and a life to lead.
Please do not give them the impression that you are messing them around.
10. Be Reasonable
Unfortunately, making unreasonable demands is likely to get your job offer withdrawn because your expectation is far outside acceptable boundaries.
Part of the salary negotiation is being realistic about what you can gain from this employer. They expect you to push for improved terms and conditions but asking them to (almost) double the salary is unreasonable and shows a lack of common sense.
It will also help to be mindful of the factors affecting an architect’s salary, so you don’t look out of touch with the industry.
11. Who Makes the Decisions?
The person you are dealing with by phone and email may not be the person deciding on salaries. Or they may need to seek higher authority for additions to the salary package.
The disadvantage of not dealing with the decision-maker is that you cannot pick up any clues about how warm or cold they feel about the negotiation.
The only way you can approach the salary negotiation is to be clear on your expectations.
12. No Knee Jerk Reactions
Quite often, when a candidate gets an offer, the interviewer pushes for a straight yes, you are going to take the job. You might be delighted with the offer of employment, but not so happy with the salary offer’s details.
You are probably not prepared with your counteroffer, so you need to come up with an answer that is non-committal and gives you time to think about the job offer.
There is nothing wrong with a phrase like: You are minded to accept the job, but you need a day (or two) to think it over, and there are some points you want to discuss further.
13. Read the Small Print
When you get the full offer in writing, it is reasonable for you to have a couple of days to read through and check that everything is as it should be.
Make sure that your new employer knows you will read the offer through before the final commitment.
When it comes to salary negotiation, some parts are plusses but not essential, and there are some items that you must have to work for this employer.
If you are clear on what is and isn’t a deal-breaker for you in the negotiations, you are more likely to be successful in getting your new employer to meet your expectations.
Your deal-breaker may be a minimum level of salary, a level of health benefits that cover your family, or something unique to your circumstances like working a half-day every week because you volunteer for a charity.
Employers can be surprisingly flexible in meeting their employees’ needs when they understand that these conditions are essential to them.
You are unlikely to get everything you want in your negotiations. For a long-term relationship, you need to win a bit, and so does your new employer.
You enter the negotiation with a clear ask, but you will be more comfortable if you have some areas where you are comfortable making compromises.
Although you may feel you are fighting for your future, you need to relax and accept that the negotiation is part of the interview process.
When you read through the job interview salary negotiation tips, take notes about what matters to you about your working life. Then you enter the negotiations with a clear picture of your desired outcome and your realistic expectations.