How to Negotiate a 15% Higher Salary in Procurement

Asking for a higher salary isn’t a comfortable experience for many of us… but the odds may be in your favour! We spoke to Imelda Walsh from The Source to help us understand why…

Picture this:

You’ve done the hard yards of applying for what you consider to be your dream job. You’ve been through a gruelling interview process; you’ve lost sleep over preparing your answers. You get to the final interview and it looks like you’ll be the one. 

Or else, picture this:

You’ve been in your position for a while. You’ve added substantial value to your organisation, and you’re feeling confident about growing into your role.

In both these scenarios, there comes the truly hard part: negotiating your salary. 

As we’ve said before, for a group of people with such strong negotiation skills, procurement professionals are a little average when it comes to advocating for their own worth, especially when it comes to the salary side of things. Not doing so can be at your own detriment, though, considering most companies have salary bands of at least 10% (so, theoretically, there is always an option to pay you 10% more.)  

Yet knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. How on earth do you negotiate in a final interview situation, where you want to do everything you can to impress? Or how do you have that conversation further down the track, when you know it’s time to ask for a raise? And how do you quiet your inner conflict about not wanting to look like you’re asking for too much, versus appearing confident in the value you’ll bring? 

To answer these tricky and at times awkward questions, we spoke to Imelda Walsh, General Manager at The Source. Having witnessed (and been a part of) hundreds of salary negotiations with some of the world’s biggest companies, Imelda has much wisdom to add to the conversation about how to get the salary you know you’re worth. 

First things first, why should you try to get a higher salary from the get go?

Let’s return to the situation above for a second, where you’re moments away from securing your dream role. In that situation, especially if you’re one of the many people for whom money is not their first priority, why on earth would you want to negotiate in the first place?

There’s a few good reasons, Imelda says. And the first reason is an extremely important one: negotiating your salary says something about you. She explains: 

“Negotiating your salary isn’t always about the dollars –  it can also be about respect. Negotiating for what you’re worth shows that you are taking control of your career and that you are taking it seriously.”

Imelda says that, in fact, if you don’t try to negotiate at all, you can end up looking the opposite of in control: 

“If you don’t negotiate at all, the company and the hiring manager may simply conclude that you’re just happy to have any job, and that you’re not that invested in your own progression.”

Is it a bad look to try to negotiate for a higher salary? 

Let’s face it, no one wants to look like they’re rocking the boat at work… or alternatively, being pushy, demanding or simply ‘chasing the money’, especially when you haven’t even started in your new job. So for this reason, is it a bad look to try and negotiate for a higher salary? 

While it certainly isn’t a bad look to try and negotiate for the reasons we’ve already identified, negotiating for the sake of it can be a bad look, cautions Imelda, especially when you have no information to back up your claim. Whenever you enter a negotiation, you need to come prepared, she says: 

“Come to any salary negotiation with as much evidence as possible for why you’re worth the money you’re asking for. This should include information on salary benchmarks, as well as where your salary is compared to the market.” 

“It should also include personal information on where you’ve exceeded expectations, for example, if you’ve mentored someone, if you’ve achieved targets, perhaps you’ve been nominated and won an award.”

“This type of information helps make your case and show where your capability and value lie.”

Salary benchmarking information can be obtained from recruiters or from industry bodies such as CIPS. If you’re unsure, Imelda says, a recruiter can always give you an independent assessment of where your salary should sit vis-a-vis your skill set. 

Why not try to prove yourself first? 

If you’re still not convinced that you should try and negotiate for a higher salary in your job, one of your reasons might be that it is simply easier to try to prove yourself first. After all, won’t ‘proving yourself’ help to show  your manager and organisation that you’re worth more without you actually having to ask? 

Not always, says Imelda. And she’s seen some situations where this just doesn’t work out the way it should. She explains: 

“It’s one thing to be really confident that you’ll get a pay rise in six months, but another entirely to actually get it. There’s so much that can change in an organisation in six months – for example, there could be a change in management or a change in structure.” 

“I’ve seen quite a few examples of where, regardless of best intentions, a promise of a later pay rise just hasn’t panned out.”

For this reason, Imelda always recommends asking for one upfront. Realistically, she says, from an organisation’s perspective there isn’t that much difference between giving you more today and in six months: 

“When negotiating your salary, it’s easy to think, oh, that extra $15,000 will make a big difference to me and my lifestyle. And sure, for an individual that is a lot but for a large organisation it isn’t that much.” 

What are your chances of getting a higher salary if you ask for one? 

There’s no doubt that plucking up the courage to negotiate for a higher salary is nerve-wracking, to say the least. So if you take the plunge and do it, will you always get it? 

Sadly no, Imelda says. But the odds are certainly in your favour at the moment, for a number of reasons: 

“Right now, there aren’t many candidates but a lot of jobs. This means that the power is in the candidate’s hands and they can and should negotiate.”

“This situation has arisen as last year, a lot of roles were put on hold, and now many businesses are recruiting. Add to that the fact that a lot of people were wary of moving to a new organisation in uncertain times, and all in all not much movement happened.” 

This could change quickly though, Imelda warns: 

“Right now, I would say you’ve got a 65-75% chance of negotiating for and actually obtaining a higher salary. But as more talent comes onto the market, that might change – so get in quick.”

How prepared do you feel to enter your new role? Or, how are you feeling about your existing procurement role? If you’re at a crossroads, read this.