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15/12/2017 19:31:49
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Salary Negotiation in a Recession.

Laura McGrath is an interview expert and a leading provider of interview coaching services.  She is also WorkWise's interview expert.

Laura McGrath interview expert Salary Negotiation is tricky at the best of times so how do you approach it in a recession?  Laura shares her thoughts.

The economic landscape in Ireland has changed dramatically over the past few years.

Less than two years ago, we were experiencing a skills shortage, which resulted in significant salary inflation. Since then however, unemployment rates have tripled - rising from 4.7% in December 2007 to 12.6% in December 2009.

Is it still possible in this context to negotiate salary, or is it better to accept a job offer at any price?

Negotiating salary is an exercise that many people find uncomfortable, even in a buoyant market.

It is worthwhile remembering that regardless of the economic climate, good candidates are always hard to find. An employer is looking for a specific combination of qualities – relevant work experience, technical and IT skills, cultural fit, ability to fit in with the team – so when they identify their preferred candidate they are usually willing to negotiate on salary.

With this in mind, how can you increase your influence at the negotiating table?


Find out what your skills and experience command on the market place – you need to know that your desired salary is not completely out of kilter with the marketplace.

Speak to recruitment consultants, head hunters and look at salary surveys, you will find the latest here on WorkWise on  Make sure to look at sector and location specific information as salary rates can vary significantly across the country and across different industries. This will help give you an idea as to what you can expect in an offer.

Take a business partner approach

In order to survive the current downturn, companies are focused on being more efficient, more productive and better than the competition. If you can demonstrate to an employer that you can save them money, you will be in a much better position to command a strong salary.

Highlight examples of where you used innovative ideas, changed processes, made better use of IT systems or other resources to save on costs and add to the bottom line. Having a commercial outlook is a rare talent and will increase your value in the eyes of an employer.

Think outside the box

Be sensitive. Many employers are on a tight budget and may not be able to afford your desired salary. However, by thinking outside the box, a compromise can be reached that works for all parties. Remember that a package is made up of many elements – basic salary, paid holiday, flexi-time, pension, bonus, share options, health care, educational assistance etc.

If an employer cannot meet your salary requirements, why not suggest a salary review after six months? You can suggest that this review be linked to meeting specific performance targets. If moving the basic salary is a sticking point, why not suggest working for the stated salary but at reduced hours?

Another option is to see if you can increase your annual leave entitlement. Or why not negotiate working from home thus saving on commuting time and expense?


Salary negotiation is all about timing. It should be done as late as possible in the interview process – the more an employer buys into you, the stronger bargaining power you have.

If salary is brought up in the first interview, politely avoid the question as you could risk pricing yourself out of the process. At this stage a good tactic is to say that the position is of more importance to you than the salary and that you are open to all reasonable offers.

When an offer does come through, do not be afraid to negotiate, especially if you feel that you have been offered less that market rate.


Approach salary negotiations with diplomacy, professionalism and tact. Be prepared to give evidence as to why you are worth a particular salary. By taking a “business partner” approach during the salary negotiations you will show that you understand the commercial pressures facing your future employer and their need to get value for money. This will ultimately make you a more attractive proposition, making it more likely that you will get paid what you are worth even in a volatile economy.

Laura McGrath is the owner of Interview Techniques, a leading provider of interview coaching services. She has spent the last 15 years in staffing and recruitment and is a regular contributor with and the Sunday Business Post.

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