When there is a high demand for skilled workers, such as during the current major labour shortage, skilled job applicants can happily flex their salary negotiation muscles. However, while it is an accepted practice for people to negotiate their salaries upon hiring, statistics show that very few people do it in Canada.
In 2020, Robert Half Canada conducted a salary negotiation survey of 500 workers and more than 600 senior managers in Canadian office environments. According to that study, “… just over one-third of professionals surveyed (36%) tried to negotiate a higher salary with their last employment offer.” That is quite a low statistic, especially when compared to our American neighbours, where more than half of professionals tried to negotiate their salary with their last job offer.
Of those who didn’t negotiate their salary in Canada, 41% wanted more money. However, 19% said they were uncomfortable negotiating, 12% felt they might lose the offer if they asked and one in 10 did not know the going rate for the position.
It’s unfortunate that some people did not feel comfortable proceeding with salary negotiations during the interview process. In the Robert Half study, 99% of the CFOs surveyed said their companies are open to some back-and-forth with candidates on job offers and 62% of them indicated they are willing to talk about compensation.
“Of those who didn’t negotiate their salary in Canada, 41% wanted more money.”
The survey also found that men were more likely to negotiate their salaries than women. This is unfortunate, considering Canadian data shows that there is still a substantial gender pay gap; according to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, women make 89 cents for every dollar men make for the same job.
It’s clear that negotiating a salary is not perceived as a faux pas by employers and there are benefits for both men and women to try it out. This is definitely the year to do it, especially considering the skilled labour shortage.
Here are some guidelines on how to prepare for salary negotiations:
1. Know how much you are worth and what you want: Research what the industry standard is for the job you are applying for. Use provincial salary statistics, speak to your colleagues and research online using websites such as Glassdoor. Consider the number of years of experience you have in the position and your unique skillsets as well. Armed with this knowledge, decide on your salary expectations, which will include deciding what your ‘reasonable’ dream salary range will be, what realistic living wage you want and the lowest salary offer you would accept. Don’t forget to compile a list of benefits that are essential to you, such as medical and dental insurance, commissions and equipment/work supports (e.g. a company laptop or company-paid cell phone, professional development budgets, personal days, etc.).
2. Determine your negotiation strategy and approach: List your strongest skillsets, experience and/or expertise related to the job. When it’s salary discussion time, use them as your way to justify and later segue the conversation into asking for more money. Those who have never negotiated a salary may find it beneficial to create a script or write out key talking points before the interview.
3. Consider what could make you decide to abandon your plan to negotiate: During the interview, consider the information you are provided about the job and if it matches what you bring to the table. Will you still go through with the negotiation plan if you discover you will have a steep learning curve for the position? Some candidates decide not to go through with their plan for salary negotiation when they discover the job is different or more difficult than they initially surmised from the job posting.
I hope this will encourage you to plan on negotiating your salary from now on!