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Negotiating with businesses: salary

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Read the previous section in this guide.
Download this article as a PDF.

We’re going to assume that you’ve done your homework and have a very good idea of what the “average” salary window is for your upcoming role. If you’re not aware of the market here then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

You should also – if you can – apply this level of research to the company you’re about to start working for. What is the state of the company’s finances? How fast are they expanding?

With all that in your mind, your salary negotiation should be fairly straightforward, except for one likely variable: this isn’t the only job you applied for. You’ve either got a better offer from somewhere else, or you’re waiting on another offer that you think might be better than the one currently in front of you.

(Don’t lie about this stuff. It’s not necessary, and is the definition of bad faith negotiating. In a long enough business relationship most lies are revealed; this is unlikely to be a positive development.)

If you’ve already received a better offer, simply be honest without being confrontational. Mention that you have a higher offer and that you’re considering taking it. Try to keep the discussion confined to salary only – comparing the culture and benefits of two companies with a non-neutral party is only going to get confusing/off-topic. Keep your cards close to your chest.

If you’re waiting on another offer, you’re really trying to buy time right now. Again, be honest: explain that theirs isn’t the only opportunity your pursuing and that you’re expecting an offer shortly from a company you’re interested in. Suggest a realistic and respectful time to wait before finishing negotiations.  Obviously a business will want to move swiftly, but pressure to move quicker than is comfortable is a red flag.

Regardless of your situation, we recommend planning things further than simply “use higher offer as leverage.” There will always be a limit to what a business is prepared/able to do. Decide ahead of time what you will do if the business can’t or won’t match the offer and what you’ll do if they refuse to improve their offer at all.

Accepting that you can’t always get what you want isn’t a sign of weakness. If a business says they cannot increase their compensation and you think they’re arguing in good faith, pushing them or escalating to a confrontation just so you can get a “win” isn’t the mark of a good future colleague. Glengarry Glen Ross is a good movie, but you wouldn’t want to hang out with any of the characters.

We’ve collected our salary findings in the table below.

Role Salary (£ 000 p/a) Rate (£ p/d)
Chief Financial Officer 120-150 700-1000
Finance Director 80-120 500-700
Bookkeeper 25-35 180-250
Finance Manager 35-45 250-300
Management Accountant 45-55 300-400
Financial Controller 55-75 350-450
Head of Operations 60-80 400-500
Operations Manager 40-60 300-400
Head of People 100-120 600-700
Head of HR 70-90 450-550
Head of Talent 80-100 500-600
HR Business Partner 60-80 400-500
HR Manager 55-75 350-450
Talent Acquisition Manager 40-60 300-400
Technical Recruiter 35-55 250-350
Commercial Director 80-120 Rarely contract roles
Head of Partnerships 100-120 Rarely contract roles
Head of Sales 80-100 Rarely contract roles
Business Development Manager 35-45 Rarely contract roles
Account Manager 40-60 Rarely contract roles
Head of Marketing 70-90 450-550
Head of Growth 55-75 350-450
Marketing Manager – Performance 40-60 300-400
Marketing Manager – Brand/Content 40-60 300-400
Content Manager/Copywriter 35-45 250-300


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