Negotiating your salary
Who decides about the salary?
The majority of TEK members are so-called senior salaried employees. This means that salary regulations are mostly excluded from collective agreements. Instead, salaries are negotiated individually, based on the job requirements, your education and training, as well as your specialised skills. Normally in Finland, you are asked to give a salary request when you apply for a job. This is then the basis for the negotiations, if you are successful in your application.
The situation is different in the public sector jobs because salaries are often paid based on a payment system.
Once your work has started, your salary development is influenced by both the general pay rises agreed in collective agreement negotiations, and on your personal pay rises based on your work performance, specialist development and career advancement. Personal pay rises must be negotiated personally with your employer.
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO DISCUSS SALARY?
TEK offers salary statistics and personal salary counselling services that provide an overall indication of the various industries’ salary levels in different tasks and positions. In Finnish working life, senior salaried employees are personally responsible for their own salary development. Everyone must personally decide the price of selling their work contribution to the employer, due to the fact that the ICT service sector is the only one where minimum salary levels are determined by the currently valid collective agreement.
General pay rises are agreed in collective agreements, but personal pay rises must be negotiated personally. It is perfectly acceptable in working life to occasionally raise the question of your own salary level, in comparison to your current tasks and responsibilities. In the following career situations, at least, you should assess your current salary level, and express a salary request that you personally deem to be justified.
- When graduating as an academic engineer, an architect, a Master of Science or Master of Arts, or when completing a scientific postgraduate examination
- When your temporary employment contract changes into an open-ended one – from a trainee into a permanently hired professional
- When your probation period determined at the start of the employment expires, provided that your current salary level has not been otherwise checked
- When your superior offers a new job description with new work tasks or responsibilities
- When your position and/or job title changes decisively within the organisation, or if it has changed in practice due to your increased responsibilities – from expert work into more demanding expert activities, for example, from an expert role to that of a manager, or from the managerial position to an executive position (executive employment contracts)
- When you complete a work project that provides your superior with tangible positive feedback from the clients or partners, for example, and/or which also increases the company’s income to a significant degree
- When a period of 12 months or more has elapsed since your previous salary check-up
- When a development discussion is scheduled for you. If your superior says that your salary level will be excluded from the discussion, suggest a discussion where it is included. It is advisable to talk salary and compensation on a regular basis with your superior – once a year, for example.
- When you are personally applying for an interesting job task
- When the offer of a transfer to another company is proposed to you (headhunt situations)
- When the TEK Salary Surveyor or Salary Counselling services clearly indicate that people generally make more money in corresponding tasks elsewhere.
You cannot always get a raise, even if you ask for it. Nevertheless, it will happen less regularly if you never ask. Our research results indicate that salary discussions are generally initiated by the employees, which means that it pays to be active! It is also a good idea to talk salary and compensation with your colleagues.
Checklist when negotiating your salary
When you are negotiating your salary, it is always important to have a salary level in mind and clear justifications why you are requesting this salary. Below are some helpful hints for your salary negotiations.
- Find out if your organisation uses a salary payment system, or if your salary is based on a collective agreement. If you don't know, it is always helpful to ask a colleague, HR or your local union representative. You should also get an idea of what salary levels are in your organisation.
- It is also important that you find out the pay statistics and recommendations in your field. As a TEK member, you have access to our Salary Surveyor application and other pay statistics services. You can also contact TEK's salary counselling service to discuss your own individual situation.
- When you know more about your company's salary payment system, find out what are people rewarded for (for example the amount of years in the company or the amount of KPI's achieved etc.).
- It's important when preparing your negotiations that you analyse your own work tasks and identify how demanding they are. Consider whether your job description has changed: have your work tasks become more demanding, and have your responsibilities increased? Think how your own competence and results have improved. Be prepared to give concrete examples of these changes.
Based on the above points, define your salary goal and make a clear list of justifications for the negotiation.
- Think of your previous salary negotiation experiences: what went well, where can you improve your negotiation skills.
- Rehearse the negotiation situation, either mentally or with someone else, and try to predict the counter arguments that may come up in the negotiation.
During the negotiation
- Express your salary requirement clearly, and be prepared to give clear, objective justifications.
- Use the terminology that is understood in your organisation and give examples of how your work performance has contributed to the organisation’s overall goals.
- Emphasise the demanding elements of your job and give clear examples of how you have managed to successfully achieve the requirements of your job.
- Highlight your skills, capabilities and engagement as an employee and how willing you are to further develop your potential.
- Be prepared to respond calmly to any counter-arguments.
- Finally, when you have reached a conclusion, recap the negotiation results together.
- Think if the discussion was successful or not. If not, what were the possible reasons?
- Think about what were your strengths and weaknesses during the negotiation.
- Did you fail to include some important information you would have helped you in your discussion?
- Think what can be improved for next time, and what you could do differently.
- Take notes after the discussion to remember what was agreed on, and what you have learned in regards to future negotiations.
Exercise: Identify your own skills and competencies
Source: Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff YTN: How to Improve Your Salary (pdf)