10 June 2021

How to virtually negotiate a better salary

Even the clearest application and hiring process can be stressful, and the increase in remote jobs has seen a digitization of the entire process. Video CVs and virtual interview processes are becoming the norm, but what about the final hurdle? While negotiating your salary via webcam poses a different set of challenges, a few key adaptations can lower the stress and raise the outcome. How do I know? As a dedicated digital talent manager, I do this every day!

Steps to successful virtual negotiation

The beginning steps of virtual negotiation are key to any negotiation--but be careful not to skip them and only practice your online demeanor. Also, reconsider the traditional first steps given the current workplace context to see if they still make sense, or need some adapting. Follow this guide to be sure that you are fully prepared for a successful virtual negotiation.

  • 1. Get market insight

As in all negotiations, the first step is research. Find out what people in your position, industry, and region typically earn. There are many good resources available, like the Ariad Income & Insight Report, digital salary calculators, national studies, or platforms like Glassdoor and LinkedIn. Great resources offer further insight, such as which benefits employees also earn, such as meal vouchers, company cars, or training stipends. Using this data is a great way to determine a realistic salary range. If you are working with a good recruiter, they will also be able to offer real, up-to-date salary data and guidance.

  • 2. Determine your range

It’s no real challenge to calculate your ideal salary, or a reasonable one, but it’s also important to understand what is the lowest acceptable offer you can accept. In the case that you end up negotiating at the lower end of your acceptable range, it will be much easier if you have your stopping point clear. This removes the chance of accepting a salary package in the heat of the moment that ultimately you’re not happy with. But of course…

  • 3. Don't forget about emotional salary

Your economy is important, and base salary is a crucial part of your compensation package. Additionally, there are many extra-legal benefits your employer can provide--for both internal employees and freelance workers. Don't forget other things you can negotiate like budget for travel, food, or internet reimbursement, extra holiday time, and even perks like paid subscription accounts. Varied benefits is a growing trend we have seen across industries, so don't be afraid to be creative.

Beyond this, emotional salary is an important work component that may offer you an extremely high value, at little cost to your future employer. This category of benefits is intangible and sometimes growing rather than fixed, and usually supports a vibrant team culture, development and/or work-life balance. Especially since the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace, these factors have become more important to employees, and more commonly offered by employers. Working 1-2 days per week remotely or having a flexible schedule could really sweeten an offer, or other intangibles like support for professional or personal growth or an attractive work culture. Consider the value these factors offer you and don’t be afraid to ask how the company views them.

  • 4. Setting the virtual scene

While it might feel uncomfortable the first time you are interviewed or negotiate online, you should really consider it a home-field advantage. You have the opportunity to curate your space and control your environment, which is more than you can say during an in-person conversation. Keep your on-camera space as simple as possible; I keep a neutral or white wall behind myself for calls, and many people prefer a virtual or blurred background. Aim to avoid interruptions during the negotiation, and keep things you might need on hand--note taking material, water, etc. If you are using a new virtual tool, I’d recommend a trial run beforehand so that you’re confident (and not distracted) during the meeting. And on the day of the conversation, be sure to dress as you would for an in-person interview.

  • 5. Adapt to the medium

It can be more difficult to instill trust and warmth though virtual communication, so consider ways to combat this. Research has shown that using video is the best form of remote communication, so opt for a video call over phone or email communication when it comes to negotiating. A lot of body language is lost with a closer, cropped frame, so try to keep your hand gestures inside the frame. A great way to do this--and remain energetic and focused--is to remain standing during your meeting, allowing you to put a little distance between yourself and the screen. No standing desk? No problem: use a high counter, shelf or just prop your laptop or camera up on a box or stool. Finally, try to make eye contact when possible--virtual eye contact. You can do this by looking directly at the camera rather than at the faces on your screen. Other people watching your video will feel as if you are returning their gaze.

The role of a recruiter

You might think that a recruiter's main job is simply finding candidates, but recruiters play a highly beneficial role in salary negotiation. Interviewing, negotiating, and even hearing back from a company after can feel hidden behind a cloud of smoke. Recruiters can offer a huge amount of transparency into the selection process for both sides of the table.

If you have been presented for a job by a skilled recruiter, you can already be assured that you are a great fit for the position and company. Furthermore, it's usually safe to assume that you are among the top three candidates. Knowing this going into your negotiation should help you confidently assert your worth. Your recruiter should also be able to offer insight into acceptable salaries or daily rates for the job, counting with their knowledge of the field, industry, and their relationship with the company. Remember, your recruiter wants you to earn as much as possible too!

Your recruiter is also a window into the mind of the interviewer. You may have questions after the interview that you would be uncomfortable asking the interviewer, but you can absolutely talk about it with your recruiter. In fact, the interviewer is probably doing the same! When small doubts or questions arise, they will always ask the recruiter, who is able to explain your case and push for you. You can also get feedback right after your interview from your recruiter, not weeks or months later! I personally think this is an extremely important and beneficial part of the interviewing process that can help achieve success much faster.

Why do I love my job? I find it so motivating when I get to meet great people and help give them opportunities to improve their professional and personal lives. I love that I can remove the struggles of many hiring processes and allow ambitious, curious and talented people to grow in their careers.

Get the Ariad Income & Insight 2021 Report for digital professions across industries in Belgium to find out what professionals are actually earning today and arrive informed for your next negotiation.