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How to get a better deal at work without leaving

Australia may be experiencing a patch of weak wage growth, but you can still try to do better for yourself at work.

“We have a culture in Australia that says to get a better job title and increase your take-home pay, you will more likely have to change employers,” laments Kelly Magowan, an executive coach and author of The Busy Women’s Guide to Salary Negotiation. “It suggests that the biggest increase you are going to get is by leaving your current job. Companies are losing good people because of that. But there’s nothing stopping you from negotiating with your current employer to get a better deal.”

It’s a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained. And the gain doesn’t always have to be money, or have to happen right now.

“You could negotiate better hours, a better job title, a better career path, some money for training down the track or a delayed pay increase written into a contract,” says Magowan.

She says it’s up to you, not your boss or potential employer, to take action. “Employers are more than happy to continue paying you the same salary or to hire you as cheaply as they can. It’s also up to you to draw attention to the value and contribution that you are making to an organisation or what you could bring.”

It’s up to you to draw attention to the value and contribution that you are making to an organisation or what you could bring.

Negotiating tips

Before you start, ensure you have researched the market and are prepared. That will give you more confidence to proceed. Magowan believes negotiations are best done face-to-face, so you could even role-play your negotiations with a friend as a part of your preparation. Even practising in front of a mirror or while driving your car can help.

“List all the key points you want to cover in the discussion,” says Magowan. “Have a viable business case itemising why your salary should be increased. Also ensure you are negotiating with the right person – the person who has the most to gain from having you hanging around.

“Don’t negotiate too many items. Keep it to three things. Also, don’t do it from your point of view. Show how the business benefits from your efforts. Explain what you have done that goes above and beyond your role and where you add value.

“Remember that not every negotiation is going be successful. Be prepared for reasons why your employer can’t offer you what you want. Understand what the ‘no’ is driven by. Try not to take it personally – it’s a business transaction. And always have a plan B if things don’t turn out how you want.”

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