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How to move jobs - and negotiate the salary you deserve Back  
Paul Cotter examines the options for those professionals considering changing jobs, and advises on how can you position yourself as an exceptional candidate and negotiate the salary you deserve.
The Irish financial services job market, along with other sectors continues to grow year on year. Indeed, we read that almost 500,000 new jobs will be created in Ireland over the next ten years - a phenomenal percentage increase on the current numbers working. When you consider the battle for talent is difficult at this moment, it could prove even more severe in years to come, which in turn will give the individual more power in their demands for financial reward.

All that being said, individuals must be realistic in their expectations and should always be prepared to build and prove their case for gaining additional reward. According to the 2006 Joslin Rowe salary survey, which will be published in November, salary levels have increased in line with inflation. However, those moving positions are seeing higher returns and companies are prepared, to a point, to pay for candidates with more relevant expertise.

So if you are considering changing jobs, how can you position yourself as an exceptional candidate and negotiate the salary you deserve?

A CV that sells you
Employers are much more willing to offer the top end of the salary scale if they feel someone can provide value for money, so it is essential that you demonstrate this. Your CV is a vitally important marketing tool as it is the first indication a prospective employer will have of the experience you can offer for the price they will have to pay.
Make sure you quantify your achievements throughout your CV - relate them wherever you can to cost savings to the business, profits made or process times reduced. The object is to make the person reading your CV feel they must ‘buy’ your experience.
Describe your current remuneration package accurately and do not be tempted to exaggerate or leave salary details off. Many job seekers, especially senior professionals, worry that by stating their current package they could be pricing themselves out of any further consideration for the job. But it is not a good idea anymore to present your current package as simply ‘base plus bonus and benefits.’ The reason is that there are an increased number of organisations that offer more flexible benefits packages and they need to make accurate comparisons. Obviously if you are well outside the salary bracket for the position on offer, you are highly unlikely to be given an interview, but it is far better to establish this at the beginning of the process.

Discussing salary at interview
This is the element that most people find difficult during an interview process. People tend to be much more comfortable discussing their qualifications and experience rather than their remuneration. But remember you work hard to be rewarded accordingly, and at some stage during your interview it is inevitable that you will be asked about your current package and future expectations. If you have already covered this detail on your CV the interviewer may just be asking to confirm the information that they already have. At this point you need to remain calm and at ease, simply talking through the details of your package. Be firm about your expectations and state them very clearly (never hedge the issue).
You should also qualify why you have a certain salary expectation by referring back to your skills and abilities or the fact that market rate salaries are in this bracket. However, it is a good idea to qualify your statements by adding that you are very interested in the company and you would be keen to see what they have to offer. This approach ensures that you make your point about what salary you would consider but also makes them aware that you may have some flexibility. After all you will be in a much better position to start negotiations on a starting salary once you have actually been offered the job.

Negotiating at offer stage
This is the most crucial part of the process, and as a consequence the trickiest. The company has offered you the job but at slightly less salary than you were hoping- what do you do next? Well obviously the firm is interested in your application, as they have put an offer on the table. But you need to consider whether it is a fair offer. Be honest with yourself, stand back and be realistic. There are industry norms for certain skill sets and levels and if you price yourself out of the market you may never find the opportunity you are looking for. If the offer is still an increase on your current salary and means better prospects you should consider it very carefully. But, if after this process you are still dissatisfied with the offer how should you attempt to negotiate a higher offer?
A major benefit for job seekers utilising a recruitment consultant is the ability to rely on them at this point as a ‘go between’ - representing views to the prospective employer without the actual candidate having to be too closely involved in the salary negations. Do not forget that if you accept the job you will be reporting into the very people you are negotiating with. Any haggles that you may have will feel much more palatable if they are conducted through the smoke screen of your recruitment consultant.
As a general rule firms will rarely increase their original offer by more than about 5 per cent to 10 per cent. In addition, the higher the increase you do manage to secure above the original offer, the more likely you are to see lower salary increases during the first year or so of your employment, as you will have been brought in at the top end of the salary bracket for your position. So weigh up your position very carefully. If your new firm will not budge on salary try negotiating on your benefits package or setting a date for your first salary review subject to certain objectives being met. However, remember when to stop, if you are working with a recruitment consultant listen to their advice. They will have a good idea of whether a company has any flexibility left on the matter.
Finally, consider your long-term career prospects before signing on the dotted line. You may be going into the company for a few thousand euros less than you would have wished, but could you be reaping the rewards down the line?

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