How to get the pay you want at that job interview

Two men shaking hands in an interview setting. PHOTO| POOL

What you need to know:

  • Mariga: My advice is to always ask for more than you want. Always, but be measured.
  • Quoting a lower amount to increase your chances of getting the job is shooting yourself in the foot
  • I learned that I always needed to know my value and to be confident about it

This week, I have been thinking a lot about negotiation skills. This is after a 23-year-old man reached out to me. He was just about to attend an interview and needed my advice on how to go about it especially on the remuneration part. Before coming to me, he had sought his parents' and close relatives’ advice but he was still unsettled.
“My parents come from a generation that nodded yes to whatever they were given as a remuneration package,” he said when I asked why he couldn’t accept their advice.
This guy had seen me on Twitter, read my column and according to him, I was good at getting what I wanted. So, we got into the business of advice and I shared my formula with him. Then, I thought that you might need it too. I have had experiences in both ways-heavily undercutting and then heavily outpricing myself. The former happened during the early days of my career then the latter happened a few years ago. Have you ever reached a point that you are tired of always feeling like you deserve more but you are not getting it? I have been there and I can say that I have got better at getting what I want.
It took me time and many trials and errors. I learned that I always needed to know my value and to be confident about it. That was the hardest part especially in a world where you’re constantly reminded of things like “you need to be grateful to have a job in this economy.” A job is amazing but it is not a favour — it’s an exchange of labour for money. Don’t forget that. 
The next lesson I learned was to do a lot of market research. Talk to friends, talk to colleagues, talking to people in HR-talk to everyone. People at your level in your industry are sometimes not very honest about pay but you should still talk to them anyway because you’ll get one or two honest ones. 
I also learned to be ready to negotiate from the top of the range or higher because recruiters or the finance team will always try to get you as low as possible from where you started off. If you quoted Sh100,000, they’ll try and get you at Sh60,000.
My advice is to always ask for more than you want. Always, but be measured.
Quoting a lower amount to increase your chances of getting the job is shooting yourself in the foot. The harder part than that is accurately figuring out your value based on your experience and what you are bringing to the table. Get in showing what you have done, the value you have added, and what you can do. Be as practical as possible.
My advice is that you do this before bringing up the numbers (salary) because it not only justifies why you are asking for that specific amount but it is also a great confidence booster. It’s funny how voicing all the things that you are and all the things that you’ve done remind you of how amazing you are. The last thing I have learned is figuring out the lowest number I would accept and be willing to walk away from the table. Admittedly, not everyone is able to do this based on their financial situation but I think that it is critical that you have a hard stop because if you don’t, you are surrendering to the person on the other end to decide how much to tell you. Problem is, when they know that they have the upper hand, you will always be the one losing.

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