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5 tips to get what you want from a salary negotiation

Negotiate your salary - typed text appearing via a torn-off section of blue paper on top. Source: Canva.com

If you’ve ever been thrilled to start a new role but a few months in realised you left money on the
table during salary negotiations, it’s a resoundingly defeating feeling.

Successfully securing the pay you want begins long before the word “salary” is ever spoken by your future employer. Read on to learn how you can best achieve your target salary next time you take a new job.

When you have the most power

Many people accept an offer slightly lower than what they desired with the thought, “At my 90-day or six-month review, my employer will see how great my work is and lift my salary to my desired number.”


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Unfortunately, there are no guarantees your work will be recognised, there will be ample budget, or you’ll even have the same boss several months down the line. Your negotiating powers are at their peak before you sign anything. If you’re seeking pay higher than the offer, don’t hesitate to speak up. If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.

Boost your salary with a credential

Earning an industry-related credential or certification before you begin job seeking is wise. Any worthwhile team sees the value in employing a demonstrated lifelong learner who goes the extra mile.

Many fundraising professionals have not completed a formalised learning pathway in their profession. Those who do, stand out.

For instance, attaining the globally recognised Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential demonstrates your mastery of ethical best practices in fundraising. It can bring you peace of mind that your practice adheres to ethical standards and you are doing right by donors and stakeholders.

To earn the CFRE credential, fundraising professionals must meet requirements around participating in education, raising funds, and working a minimum of three out of the last five years in a paid professional fundraising role. Once the requirements are met, the next step is preparing for and passing the CFRE Exam, which tests your understanding of globally-accepted, best practice fundraising.

When you pass the CFRE Exam, it is a testament you have mastered fundraising’s essential ethical principles.

A credential can also expand your network exponentially. In the case of the CFRE, there are more than 7,700 CFRE certificants worldwide across 25 countries.

List why you’re worth your target salary

Create a spreadsheet for yourself (don’t provide to the interviewer) with four column headings:

In each column, list as many of your attributes as possible. In skills, list both hard and soft skills. You may think being a good listener isn’t worth mentioning. Most likely, you have no idea about the person you are replacing. Maybe they listened to no one’s ideas but their own. Your honed listening skills may be most welcome.

Under Victories, list noteworthy accomplishments. Spell out the appeals you smashed, the lapsed donors you won back, the new bequest toolkit you launched that significantly lifted enquiries, etc

This exercise refreshes your memory so you have a set of accomplishments and wins you can
point to readily.

Make a statement, not a demand

Be prepared to answer, “What is your target salary?”

One technique is to reply, “From my research, people in this region with my experience and education usually earn between £X and £X.” Don’t pull numbers out of thin air. Research your range is within the norm.

Framing your target salary within the context of what the sector pays mitigates the fear you’re making an unreasonable demand or aiming too low.

It’s OK to put your needs first

Negotiating is an art. It isn’t giving up what you want at the first indication you and your future employer’s expectations aren’t aligned.

Before negotiations begin, write down your ideal and minimal acceptable offers. Even on the low end, you should be happy with the package. If not, revise. There’s little point accepting an offer you will regret.
Aim for the high end at the outset. If revisions need to be made, you have already considered how far you are willing to compromise.

If the salary won’t budge, considering asking for:

Go get what you deserve

Remember, you don’t have to accept an offer that doesn’t work for you. You are a valuable
employee bringing your one-of-a-kind skill set and background.