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I've read a few answers here advocating asking for more during the initial salary negotiation. The amounts I see leave me dumbfounded, and I suspect it's because these answers come from a US-centric point of view. For example in Just got an initial job offer. How do I ask for more without any real justification? we get this piece of advice:

Always, always, always ask for more. It makes them respect you and you're likely to get it.

which is fair enough. This question links to a Reddit thread where a commenter says

I remember my first job out of college I was offered 45K and I was feeling confident that day and pulled a random number out of my ass for a counter offer. I told them 64K. They said 'sure' without even blinking!! Involuntarily, my jaw dropped and I got a big dumb smile on my face and said "REALY?! ... uh I mean.. uh... that sounds good..."

The Question

It is my feeling that negotiations in the US do lead to a higher salary compared to the UK, and I think that's because it's much easier to fire someone in the US.

So, does the same rule of thumb apply? Should one be asking for 5-10k more? How much more conservative are UK companies during initial negotiation? How can I translate all the US-centric advice to UK norms?

  • 4
    A good start is to be aware that salary benchmarks may be different, and can vary drastically if you are working in London or another big city. – user34587 Sep 15 '17 at 9:33
  • I kind of depends how much you are willing to risk losing the job by putting in a high number. If you could take it or leave it, aim high. But also consider that if they pay you a lot, they might expect a lot of you too. – user Sep 15 '17 at 11:08
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    @ゼーロ That's a curious point. Personally, if I have to defend the salary I'm asking for to the point of needing data on the local cost of living, I'm likely to bow out and wish the company good luck in finding someone who is willing to do the job for what they are willing to pay. I may be spoiled by the fact that my field of expertise is in high demand recently, but I would expect anyone who is looking for a new job from a healthy starting point should have the 'luxury' of saying no to an offer that doesnt meet their needs. – Cronax Sep 15 '17 at 11:14
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    @rath probably not I'm afraid. I don't have the energy to build those comments into an answer that won't get down-voted to oblivion. If you don't try you can't fail, right? – user Sep 15 '17 at 19:35
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    @RuiFRibeiro it's not just you. The UK government has been working hard to push down wages for nearly a decade now. With the falling Pound and rising cost of living, wages are generally very low. Brexit has also presented a big opportunity for EU countries to brain drain all the talent away. Now we are left with silly offers like a "senior" dev in London for just £50k. – user Sep 15 '17 at 19:41
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Be confident.

Generally, asking for more is fine as long as you're able to defend that request when asked. It's taken as a positive that you're able to negotiate rationally rather than just stating an increased salary as a demand.

I'll usually take a look at the going rate and then add some. The actual amount over the base salary really depends on the market and salary scale.

Don't forget that hiring managers will probably have a headcount budget, so asking for a salary that goes unacceptably above that level will likely leave you rejected (or the manager in a difficult position with the finances).

  • One other thought - if you're going though an agency, they'll know what the salary bands for the role are and - in my experience - will usually tell you, so you can go in informed. If you're in the middle of the band then there's a good chance of a successful outcome, but if your offer is already near the top then it's (usually) much harder for a hiring manager to re-band a role to offer more money. – strmqm Sep 15 '17 at 9:51
  • Very well written IMHO. – Mister Positive Sep 18 '17 at 13:10
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Should one be asking for 5-10k more?

You are worth what someone is willing to pay you. There are many sources of salary info sorted by location, skill level, and experience. You should be able to find and use this information easily.

How much more conservative are UK companies during initial negotiation?

I am not so sure they are, in a sense that most companies know what they are going to have to pay to get a particular skill set at a given efficiency level.

How can I translate all the US-centric advice to UK norms?

Again, I am not sure you can. Just because your skill set is work 100K in the US, doesn't mean you will get any more or less than what your local market will bear.

When negotiating salary, be confident in knowing that you have done the research and know what your skill set is worth in your local market.

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Know the territory. You have to know what levers of negotiations you do have :

  1. What is the local norm for the job you are taking
  2. What are the specific points taht you could lever on to get your own value over the norm(or under, if you've got weaknesses)
  3. Is the prospective employee in a hurry? Does he have other candidates ready? How good did you seduce?

All those points will help you establish for a clearer strategy. My first job, well, I was not from the domain, they were hiring in big numbers, so there was no place for negociation at all. I just had to take what they offered. My second job, I was one amongst a few others. I asked slightly over the norm, and nearly got what I asked - but only from one propsective employer. The three other ones did decline my bet. My current job, well, I'm a perfect fit, they had noone else available, and would have lost 6 important months had they not recruited me. I played dirty, and it payed above my own expectations.

Because circumstances were favorable. I had the wind in my sails. That's ultimately the thing to gauge : do you have wind in your sails? If not, like for my first job, then shut up and accept whatever misery you are offered. If yes, have fun and negotiate hard. And there are plenty of intermediate positions between those. The more wind you have, the bolder you can be.

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