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What is your Salary expectation & how to negotiate?

Salary negotiating is hard without knowing the figures in advance. Negotiation works best when you know about supply and demand. Negotiation strategy depends on the personal situation. Career professionals who have years of experience would have proven records to highlight past experiences and results. Ontario Canada wants employers to post salaries on the job posting and that is a great initiative. But recruiters/employers could ask you about your current salary/ past salary to determine your future salary when you are trying to switch jobs. Here are some techniques and scripts if they ask about current salary.

Newcomers or Immigrants moving to Canada might shy away from salary negotiating due to confidence or not knowing their worth in a new market. It is important to know your worth by doing research way in advance. Confidence is the key when negotiating the salary backed by research and your past accomplishments with the data. The answer is always NO if you don't ask!

A recent study published on February 19th, 2021 by Stanford University states that women are paid less than their counterparts as early as they start a position in entry-level by $4000. It continues as women rise through the promotion ladder. This issue is more prevalent in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). The shocking truth is that in some positions, women are paid almost $20000 less than their male counterparts for the same type of work that they perform.

What are the steps before salary negotiations?

  • Know the range of salary you are targeting. Check online if your expectation is realistic

  • Never disclose the current or previous salary as what you are making right now might not be the fair market value here is why

  • Consider location, cost of living, titles, job description, experience, education, certificates, shift work, etc. Check the cost of living in Canada here.

  • You are responsible for knowing your worth, don't let anyone put the price tag on you

  • You need to pre-screen the employers and recruiters with clear expectations, this is why having a range helps you to weed out unwarranted job leads

  • Watch out for Imposter syndrome and low self-esteem which directly impacts the confidence to negotiate

  • Apply for the job which meets your expectations, just because you are highly qualified. The company might not pay you more for being overqualified, especially when a job is advertised as a junior role

  • Consider benefit packages such as signing bonus, yearly STIP bonus, RSP, stocks, bonds, parking, personal leave, vacation days, cell phone monthly cost, Internet, toll transponder, mileage, gas etc.

  • Research in advance, sometimes informational interviews help to identify the perks the company offers

  • Talk to a group of people within the same industry to check on other perks, vacations, benefits, paid sick leave, relocation packages, etc.

  • What is the absolute must-have and what is nice to have?

  • Are you willing to walk away if the employer is not willing to move on with your request?

  • What is at stake, are there any other offers on the table, how confident are you that you will have another job soon

  • It is all about ironing out the pros and cons of negotiating

  • Know your worth and be ready to explain about accomplishments you would bring to the new role

  • Never use the personal situation for salary negotiation i.e. bills, loans, family, seniority etc.

  • Plan and practice your pitch before the job offer

  • Don’t drag negotiations for days. Either take the offer or leave on good terms

  • Sometimes managers can't control the salary and have to go through executive/ HR/ Finance, knowing the process may help you influence influencers, especially for internal promotions.

When they ask, What is your salary expectation?

Usually, the salary expectation is prescreening questions to determine the right fit. You should be confident to address the salary expectation questions. Employers have a budget allocated for each title and they need to hire the right talent sticking to the budget. If you have niche expertise with less supply and more demand, employers might offer higher than the predetermined salary range. Be prepared to sell your skills!

If they ask you about

Use one of the following approaches:

First of all, understand the role requirements, core responsibilities, and a reporting line. If you are in a leadership role who are you reporting to matters.

For example, Managers normally report to Senior Managers, Senior Managers to Directors, and Directors to V/P. Reporting lines may depend on the type of industry and the role. Anytime they skip the reporting line i.e. Managers reporting to the Director/ VP/ CEO, you got to ask the questions, was it always like that or did they get rid of the middle manager's role and now trying to save the cost. Take a look at the red flags here. .

There is a difference between the title and the core responsibilities. Sales leader, Sales Associate Manager, Sales Coach, Sales Lead, and Sales Manager is an examples of misused titles for compensation. The title plays an important role in fair compensation. A Sales Coach might be making a lot less than a Sales Manager but both could have the same job description and reporting line. The Sales Manager might have a year-end bonus and other perks but the Sales Coach might not. You need to understand the different levels and the perks before giving out the numbers. The title Associate and Analyst matters even though they could be doing an exact role. Asking for the right title could be negotiated during salary negotiations.

• Defer by saying "I’m sure we will be discussing salary expectations as we get further along in our conversations. First, you have to find if you are even the right fit for the company. Go through the stage of interviews."

Note: The only time you are deferring the question will be when you know how much they potentially offer for the role you are applying for or you will be okay with the offer.

Unionized and public sectors usually don't negotiate the salary and include salary info on the job posting.

• Give range to recruiters so that they can target the right employer. Never provide your past salary information. Let them know what you are targeting and be clear with the range. " Here is what I am targeting to switch"

•If the employer or recruiter reached out to you ask the question back

To Employers “What is your range of pay currently for the same role and what other benefits do you provide" "What is the top salary range for this role"

To External Recruiters " Have you recruited for a similar role within that company, what is your client's range and total compensation package?" then wait until they provide the information. If the range falls within your expectation confirm you are interested and advise salary is negotiable after going through the final stage.

•Research and understand the market rate for the position prior, and present that in a salary range, (e.g., My research outlined the market rate for this position would be $60–80K; I would fall in the higher range if an offer was extended in that range, I’m sure we could look into total compensation package further when the right time comes". This approach gives you to go over the interview process and if you like the company's culture you could negotiate further.

The total compensation package is an overall $$ gross income with perks and benefits. Focus on the bigger picture instead of salary. Sometimes net income is a lot less with higher salaries because of tax brackets in the States and Canada, revisit benefits.

Don’t want to provide range yet and want to take on the role at any cost because of an employer’s brand?

Say ” This is too early for me to answer, without going through the interview process. Salary is negotiable based on the total compensation package. I am sure your company has a fair compensation package based on the market rate. Could you provide me with the breakdown?"

Some recruiters won't move on without discussing salary, it is a normal checklist for employers, be prepared to discuss salary on the first call or during the application stage online.

Note: There is a compliance and pay gap audit in place for the company. A corporation can't pay you lower than the salary band based on the title.

Can an employer pay less for the same job?

You are entitled to the same pay as anyone doing the same or similar job, or a job of equal value, regardless of gender or disabilities. If your employer is not treating you equally, they are breaking the law.

Economists say wage growth could turn into a big problem for the Bank of Canada, which is already grappling with inflation that is near a two-decade high. While Canada’s employment has returned to pre-pandemic levels, wage growth was up 1.7% on the year in September, compared with 4.3 percent in February 2020, right before the onset of the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada. Canada's annual inflation rate is the highest since 1991.

Wage inflation is coming and it will impact career professionals. Consider factoring the inflation into salary expectations and negotiation. What you have earned last year might not be equivalent to the current market. In fact, you shouldn't be answering questions such as "What is your current salary". Your current salary is not anyone's business. Tenure career pros' salary is capped after they reach a certain "Band/ Level" without an inflation increase. People who took a leave of absence/maternity leave/ paternity leave/ mental health leave don't normally get salary increases in the existing company as they don't have measurable performance stats. Career professionals with leave have a pay gap when compared to their colleagues. I can speak from my experience, I went on maternity leave twice. In Canada, we have 12 to 18 months of maternity leave available. Inflation impacts capped tenure employees the most who have had no salary increases for years. No wonder these employees are in the great resignation pool. Employers don't have control over the market so asking for a raise based on inflation could be hit or miss.

For internal employees, I am an advocate for high performers to get higher raises but at the same time, everyone needs a raise for inflation too regardless of performance. Any employers who are just doing the bare minimum right now will face great resignation. Every time in survey results "I am not paid enough" is on the top list.

Things you can do during yearend review for salary increase.

Talk about inflation raise during the year-end performance review but mainly focus on the performance such as If you took on any extra task, speak up and ask $$$. Bring facts and evidence to the table.

Focus on what employers have control over. For example, the performance metrics for the year are to be readjusted due to inflation and COVID-19. Ask your manager to re-adjust the target which might put you on the high performer list and get a higher raise/ bonus.

Why employees couldn't meet/ exceed the given target and still deserve raises due to uncontrollable factors in the economy, make a case and negotiate.

Many companies bump up the salary based on a meet and exceed. Give evidence of things that were uncontrollable factors. Compare your stats from before and provide case studies.

Ask to pay the lump sum cost of living amount

If you are working from home try negotiating the cell phone bill, internet bill, and car mileage for those who use personal vehicles to meet clients.

Negotiate the stock options, RRSP match etc.

The company needs to put a clear process, of inflation salary hikes plus for those who go above and beyond. Focusing on accomplishments to ask for a raise is the first step then bring inflation up if you want to test the water. I nothing works then go where you are celebrated!

History shows that employers have not matched inflation each year. If there is a mandate by the government then everyone will do it. So the government could step up here where everyone gets the inflation hike. We shall wait and watch.

What to ask before starting to negotiate the salary. Check here.

Links for Researching the salary online

How to negotiate?

Use the If and then approach for salary negotiations, take a look at the script on the video with an example.

  1. Take your time to rethink an offer, never accept a verbal on-the-spot offer, ask them to send emails with all the details for further review. Ask if the offer is negotiable.

  2. Thank them for the offer and use the right approach to go back for a counteroffer, either by providing the range or asking them to revisit certain sections of the total compensation package

  3. Having multiple offers helps you to ease the counteroffer and give a sense of urgency for employers to either match or beat the offer

  4. If possible, provide the link of exact or similar jobs which includes the salary information based on the market rate. Be proactive with the information to get the buy-in from employers

  5. Look at the start date, is there a sense of urgency?

  6. Find out a couple of things to understand how hard is it to fill the role. How long was the role vacant? is this a new role? what happened to the previous employee? do they have a similar type of role already? will you have to figure out and fix problems or is there training provided?

  7. Based on number 5, the workload pending from the vacant role provides a signal that the employer would want you as soon as possible or not, shows how desperate they are to get the right talent

  8. Try to wait for a couple of days before sending the proposal, job offer has an expiry date, don’t wait until the last day

  9. The preferred method of contact should be a phone or in-person to make it more meaningful and professional (video meetings should be ok).

  10. You can request the meeting through e-mail but ongoing communication should not be through e-mail

  11. Look beyond the pay-cheque and money. Factor in work-life balance, hours of work, benefits, bonus and vacation days.

  12. Never threaten to walk away or bring what another employee in the same role is making within the company

  13. Don’t take it personally, take the emotion out and bring data to validate your worth, thank them later for reviewing your proposal

  14. It is always better to put the proposal in writing and follow up on a phone call

  15. Be calm and collective when negotiating not demanding, and listen before assuming

  16. Bring the facts such as quantitative data from the past and provide evidence

  17. Ask to revisit the salary in 3 to 6 months again ( bring your accomplishment with you)

  18. Request to have performance appraisal in 3-6 months after probation to review salary and bonus

  19. Request to revisit the title closer to your future goals, for example, Quality associate to Quality Analyst. Data Clerk to Data Analyst

  20. Most companies provide prorated vacation, bonuses or perks, based on the number of years you complete with employers using the start date. Ask for eliminating prorated perks.

  • For example, you could get a bonus based on the full year even if you are not eligible.

  • Ask to get one one-time sign-back bonus/sweetener if you left the previous company and missed the stip-end bonus with the ex-employer

  • Instead of being eligible 3 weeks of vacation ask for 4 weeks

  • Ask for benefits to start right away instead of 3 months

  • Most companies have a yearly review to go over metrics and reevaluate the salary, you can ask to review salary along with other staff at the same time, especially if you have only 3 months of tenure. You don't want to wait another year to evaluate the salary.

In a pandemic, many situations have changed the way we do business. What is important to you?

Try 4-day work schedules, Remote work or hybrid work, flexible work hours based on your schedule, and work from anywhere in the world options. Look beyond the salary!

Sweta Regmi is a hiring manager from award-winning companies turned into Founder and CEO at Teachndo, a Certified Career & Résumé Strategist.Sweta Regmi is a globally recognized top career expert, speaker, and LinkedIn Top Community Voice for Career Development, Job Search Strategies, Personal Branding, Public Speaking, Resume Writing, and Interviewing with over a decade of experience empowering career professionals. Sweta's insights are featured in CBC National News Prime Time & Local, Global National News Top Story & Global Local News, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, HuffPost, CTV News, City News, FOX 26 News, Daily Mail, BNN Bloomberg, 5 times in Globe and Mail, Yahoo News, National Post, MSN,, FORBES, Toronto Sun, 80+ times in LinkedIn News, LinkedIn Hello Monday award-winning podcast, LinkedIn Creators, Indeed, Employment services, Top Colleges and Universities, Career Conferences, Leadership Conferences, and 100+Top media outlets have widely recognized Regmi's expertise, see here. Regmi has also partnered with leading brands and organizations to elevate and spearhead career strategies, career sites, and outplacement and establish non-profit employment services partnerships. Her RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards nomination by Women of Influence in 2022 and 2023 further demonstrates her success as a recognized career expert in Canada. Regmi is also the Amazon Best Seller of 21 Resilient Women: Stories of Courage, Growth, and Transformation. The book has been recognized by libraries, ministers and MPs in Canada.

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