Negotiating a salary increase:
The basics

In your professional career you will always be confronted with salary negotiations. No matter whether you are asking for a salary increase after your probation period or whether you have been with your current employer for a few years. And even right at the start, when you are applying for a job, you will be talking about money during your job interview.

But what are the strategies? How much more money can you ask for after a successful probation period? What are you entitled to on average when compared to all other professionals? And how do you convince your superiors during a salary negotiation that they should pay you more?

We’ll show you the best tips and tricks we've collected over the last few years on how to get a salary increase—along with the errors you should be sure to avoid.

Make sure to prepare—and research—for a salary discussion

Before embarking on a salary negotiation, be sure to know exactly how much you are worth. There is no one-fits-all answer to the question “How much more money can I ask for?” or “What is a reasonable request?”. There are too many differences in professional and personal backgrounds, industries, existing additional qualifications and company sizes. And a company’s location and profitability also matter for the wages they pay.

Be sure to know that when you start your career or change jobs, different factors will influence your salary. University degree, specialisations and also previous practical experience from internships during your studies or different placements as a working student will ultimately influence your starting salary.

Previous (professional) experience will also play a role for future salary discussions when changing jobs. Other levers are your positions at previous employers, your managerial experience, regional differences in salary and the size of your new company.

Also keep in mind that salaries can vary greatly between industries. According to research, pharmaceutical and medical technology companies and organisations as well as banks and capital goods industry firms pay the most attractive salaries. In comparison, jobs in retail, hospitality and trades are less lucrative.

Therefore, you always need to be aware of the current economic situation when assessing your salary potential.

Our tip: Do comprehensive research. Use salary calculators and gather all the information to compare positions and companies you can find—no matter whether you have just finished your probation period or have been working in the company for ten years.

Negotiating salaries is a skill...

Not everyone is experienced and well versed when it comes to negotiating. And often, success in a salary discussion comes only in the second or third round. We have one effective tip for you: Use the company principles and its corporate values in your argumentation.

Does your employer always advocate for happy customers? If you managed to win customers or if existing customers are very happy with your services, make sure to communicate that in a salary discussion.

Does your company always strive to improve workflows? If it was your idea to implement new processes or systems that helped to increase team efficiency by 15 percent, make sure to mention that to your employer.

If you were able to contribute to your employer’s success, communicate this with self-confidence and pride. This helps your superiors to better understand why you would like your salary adjusted.

 

Salary negotiations: 4 tips for your future salary increase

Although you should always talk about “salary adjustment” and never about raising your current pay, you still need to employ some negotiation skills. Use our tips to be well equipped for salary discussions.

Be self-confident in salary negotiations

Applicants, but also active employees, often start out rather defensively and shy in salary negotiations. Never apologise for your request to adjust your pay; don’t say that you feel uncomfortable about the discussion. As a negotiation partner, you are on an equal footing here with your superiors. What you can expect is an equivalent value for your performance. Communicate your value with self-confidence and actively push for what you're worth: “I think that EUR 54,500 is an appropriate salary for my current position.” Try to find a balance here: Don’t be rude, but don’t beg for more money, either. In addition, make sure to avoid using the conditional tense such as “I would say that this is an suitable salary” as it reduces your chances and leaves no room for argumentation.

Did you miss the moment during your performance review or salary discussions when you could have mentioned your expected salary? Our tip: Never agree to the first offer your boss makes. You are in a negotiation, which is why both parties should agree to an offered salary. Keep this in mind: The fact that you are in a negotiation signals your employer’s basic willingness as well as a certain leeway with regard to your salary.

So even if you are e-mailed your employment contract, you don’t have to accept this first draft immediately. Both negotiation parties need to be happy and agree on the possible salary before you accept the suggestion.

Did you miss the moment during your performance review or salary discussions when you could have mentioned your expected salary? Our tip: Never agree to the first offer your boss makes. You are in a negotiation, which is why both parties should agree to an offered salary. Keep this in mind: The fact that you are in a negotiation signals your employer’s basic willingness as well as a certain leeway with regard to your salary.

So even if you are e-mailed your employment contract, you don’t have to accept this first draft immediately. Both negotiation parties need to be happy and agree on the possible salary before you accept the suggestion.


Many salary experts purposefully pause in conversations. Why? In such discussions, silence is often difficult to bear for the dialogue partners. Instead, they talk without beginning and end, thereby minimising their chances of a salary increase. Using silences on purpose is a technique only few people master in a negotiation. Communicate that you imagine a 15-percent salary adjustment to be justified. Then stop and don’t add reasons for your requested salary. This underlines what you have just said and also your determination. If your boss inquires further, you can directly tell them your sound and prepared arguments.

Many salary experts purposefully pause in conversations. Why? In such discussions, silence is often difficult to bear for the dialogue partners. Instead, they talk without beginning and end, thereby minimising their chances of a salary increase. Using silences on purpose is a technique only few people master in a negotiation. Communicate that you imagine a 15-percent salary adjustment to be justified. Then stop and don’t add reasons for your requested salary. This underlines what you have just said and also your determination. If your boss inquires further, you can directly tell them your sound and prepared arguments.


Many superiors respond to salary requests with a reflex—using catchphrases or sometimes spurious counter-arguments you cannot refute. You can prepare yourself very well for them.

They claim that there is no budget for it? Counter that by saying that your recently completed project in particular led to an 8-percent sales increase in the past three months. This will nip counter arguments straight in the bud.

 

Many superiors respond to salary requests with a reflex—using catchphrases or sometimes spurious counter-arguments you cannot refute. You can prepare yourself very well for them.

They claim that there is no budget for it? Counter that by saying that your recently completed project in particular led to an 8-percent sales increase in the past three months. This will nip counter arguments straight in the bud.

 


Also be prepared for this standard counter argument:

  • “Unfortunately, I cannot meet your salary request because of the current financial situation.” Your reply: “I recognise that. And that’s why there are potential benefits we should discuss.”

  • “Your current salary is already much higher than those we usually pay for such jobs.” Your reply: “My research into the job as an online marketing manager with ten years of experience, plus the successes I already achieved for our company suggest otherwise. According to that, my salary is…”

  • “Your salary request exceeds our department’s current budget. I’m not authorised for this; our CEO needs to decide about that.” Your reply: “You are the head of this department and are in the ideal position to gauge my performance. What kind of salary adjustment is appropriate in your eyes?"

And it all comes down to that: practice, practice and ... practice. Be as meticulous here as you were when preparing your application documents.

You haven’t yet found your dream job and would like to meet more employers? Upload your CV to our portal and send a speculative application.

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