Negotiating employment conditions

Whether it is your first job, or your third, negotiating employment conditions remains a tricky and difficult issue for many people. It is completely normal to negotiate your wages, but this still feels like a barrier you need to cross. Especially when you have found your dream job, but you know, deep down, that you are worth more than they are offering. Would you discuss your salary anyway? And what about the secondary employment conditions? Let us help you!

1. Do some research

There are two ways to ascertain what would be a fair salary for your function. If your function falls within a collective labour agreement (CAO), then the salary scale is often mentioned in the job description. This scale is fixed and non-negotiable. But you can negotiate about the pay-grade within the salary scale. This is why you should get informed about the CAO and the respective salary scale. This will tell you what would be realistic expectations, which you can then express – with the use of substantiated sources – to your potential new employer. Does the function not fall within a CAO? Then you can do an online search to find a tool that will give you an indication of a fair salary. There are numerous websites where you will find your benchmark by filling in your education, experience, branch, and function. 

2. Do not forget the secondary labour conditions

Consider the complete package, as in most cases, people often only think about the salary but they forget about the secondary labour conditions. And that is a shame. Of course, the salary is an important part of the labour conditions, but there are so many more factors that really matter as well. These can include the responsibilities you will get, the working hours, flexibility, the number of holidays, and training opportunities. Before you go to the interview, you should consider these aspects very well, so you have a clear view of your limits and you can discuss them. And the same applies here: do some research and avoid having unrealistic expectations. Tanno Oele, recruitment consultant Legal at Brunel: "The secondary labour conditions can vary considerably per organisation. So you need to find out what and where the possibilities lie within the company you are applying with. Maybe you know someone in your own network who already works for this organisation and you can have a chat with this person. Will you be seconded? Then your consultant will be able to tell you more about the labour conditions." 

3. Negotiate with a specific goal

According to Deepak Malhotra, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (in: Harvard Business Review), you should not just negotiate just for the sake of negotiating. You don't have to prove to anyone that you are good at that. When something really matters to you, then you should certainly negotiate, but don't start a discussion about everything. When you push too long or too strongly, then it may backfire and reduce your chances in any future negotiations – with the same organisation. Before you start the interview, think about what really matters to you and retain a certain level of flexibility. Negotiating will always be a game of give and take, whereby creating some concessions is a wise thing to do. You could, for example, ask for a salary that lies a bit higher than you would like to get, but don't exaggerate. This also applies to the secondary labour conditions. 

4. Choose the right moment 

Something at least as important to the subject of your negotiations is the moment at which you start them. Do not immediately raise the subject of labour conditions during the first interview, with is often an initial interview to get acquainted. Felix Schoonderbeek, recruitment consultant IT at Brunel: "When there is no salary indication in the job description, it not an odd subject to get informed about. But don't initiate a discussion about it. You should first wait and see what the account manager or your potential employer will tell you before you start negotiations then and there. There will be more scope to that in later interviews."