Negotiation of salary
the 4 best tricks

1) What affects my salary?

Whether you're starting a new career or are changing jobs, there are a variety of factors that can affect your salary. For instance, when you're just getting your career off the ground, things such as your final degree, choice of subjects and past experience as an intern or student trainee can influence your starting salary.

However, when moving between jobs, your current salary combined with your past experience and the relevance of this work to your future role are a good basis for salary negotiations.

Many factors, regardless of whether you are just entering the workforce or are changing jobs, will have a broad impact on your annual salary. These can include your (hierarchical) position, management experience, industry differences, regional wage gaps, collective tariff groups and company size to name but a few.

Various studies have shown, for example, that the pharmaceutical and medical technology industry, banks or the capital goods industry are segments that pay attractive salaries, whereas retail, food service and crafts are ranked among the less lucrative employment sectors.

Generally, you should factor in the current economic climate as well as competition in the job market when trying to estimate your salary expectations.

2) How should I negotiate my salary?

Here, as with anything you want to be successful at, being well prepared in advance is crucial. If you find yourself in a position to negotiate the salary for your first permanent job after completing your studies or course of training, make sure to get an overall impression of the salary structure for your profession or industry. Professional associations, industry reports, salary calculators or regional job placement offices are perfect sources of information.

If the person conducting your interview (on site or in an online interview) doesn't directly address your salary, you should definitely bring the topic up yourself. Even if a job offer or invitation for a second interview isn't forthcoming, having had this discussion will give you a basis for comparison in follow-up talks or interviews.

If you've done your homework in advance, you should find it easy to lay out your salary expectations. Sometimes the job advertisement itself will include a section about your desired level of income. This way, if you are called to interview, your salary expectations will already be in line with the company's budget for the position.

Make sure you already have your desired salary in mind – including all additional benefits – before you attend an interview. You should, however, also give serious thought to what you consider to be your lowest acceptable salary as well as prepare for any possible arguments regarding this should negotiations become tougher. For those just starting their careers: Remember, for the majority of jobs and companies there will be a certain margin for negotiations either in terms of purely monetary remuneration or as regards attractive additional benefits. If the companies you deal with are very firm about the amount of money offered for the role, you are certainly entitled to open a discussion about a possible increase in your pay after you've completed your initial probationary period. As a rule of thumb: A margin of 2,000 CHF to 5,000 CHF per year is reasonable even if you're just starting your career.

Attractive additional benefits may include:

  • Free meals / meal vouchers / discounted meals in the company canteen
  • Free drinks
  • Subsidised public transport (half-fare travel card)
  • Staff sports programmes / discounted memberships in sports clubs or gyms
  • Home office
  • Company car
  • Free parking
  • Child care subsidy / company kindergarten
  • Company pension scheme

3) Negotiations when changing jobs

If you're looking to change jobs, you'll find yourself in a more pleasant situation when it comes to salary negotiations. If there is no suitable position at the moment, a speculative application to the company of your choice may also impress. Depending on your current salary, you can expect a ten to fifteen per cent increase in your pay. Moreover, you also have something you can use for comparisons with your current job, including working hours and benefits. Make sure you have put together all the appropriate arguments to support your position in advance. These can include, for instance, any successes you've achieved in your current job role as well as highlighting your extensive experience in carrying out your duties and responsibilities.

However, should you not be able to immediately realise your aspirations, keep applying elsewhere until you find a position that has the right, total package for you or renegotiate the salary for your current job. It's also important not to needlessly drag out your salary negotiations. This can often raise questions on the part of your interviewer and may give the impression you're not as convinced of yourself and your abilities as you should be.

For every salary negotiation, whether you're just starting your career, renegotiating the pay for your current job or when changing jobs, remember: Be confident, prepare your arguments in advance, know your lower limit, but be willing to make concessions.

4) Starting salaries and salary increases

Your starting salary can vary depending on position, company, industry and region. Studies show, for example, that SME new starters can, on average, earn up to 8,000 CHF less than those taking their first jobs in a corporate environment.

In the medium to long term, university degrees, experience abroad and additional qualifications all translate into increased earnings.

In Switzerland, the average nominal wage increase in 2015 was 0.4 per cent and the increase in real wages, thanks to negative inflation, was 1.5 per cent. The outlook for 2017 assumes a nominal wage increase of 0.8 per cent.

Working from this assumption, you can include an annual salary increase of about one per cent. If you're looking to change positions or companies, this becomes about four to 12 per cent.

And of course, it should go without saying that it's important always to prove yourself both in your current and future positions so that when it comes to negotiating your salary you can convincingly argue your corner and achieve the pay you want.

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