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12 negotiation tips to help you come away happy

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When you and a prospective employer are sitting at the negotiating table, it is not only your salary that you can negotiate. Here is our guide on what to negotiate and how to do it.

What can you negotiate?

If you are applying for your first graduate role or you have only recently been employed as a graduate be aware that most medium to large sized companies will have a standard graduate packages that they will not expect you to negotiate, particularly with regards to salary and working hours. If you have specific ideas about the training and development you want to undertake, this will probably be your central and perhaps only negotiating point. If you are applying to a smaller company or a role in a company that did not previously exist or you have been employed for some time, here are some factors to consider when negotiating: 


Your first salary is more important than you might think. It is the basis upon which your employer, and possibly future employers, will assess your salary - salary increases are usually a percentage increase. If you are unsure about what the average wage is for your profession i towuld be a good idea to contact your union. The more information you have the better. If you are asked what salary you expect it is a good idea to avoid zeros (ie, 300,000kr). Instead give something more precise (like 305,500) which will give more of an impression that you have done your research and understand the going market value of your services.


As a recent graduate it is unlikely that your retirement plan will be the near the top of your list of important things to negotiate. Still, it is useful to look at whether your pension is part of your salary. If it isn't, then you might want to consider this a negotiating point. 

Working Hours 

Working hours vary from workplace to workplace but a typical working week is 37 hours. Working hours may be appropriate to negotiate. Topics to consider might be your lunch break, flexitime, working from home and overtime. 

Holidays and personal days 

According to the Holidays Act you are entitled to five weeks of vacation with full pay, if you have been employed for a full calendar year. In addition to five weeks of vacation, many companies also provide holidays and personal days in their employment agreements. 

Pregnancy and childbirth 

Men and women have the right to take time off because of pregnancy and childbirth. Whether you get paid your full salary, will depend upon your employment agreement. 

Further Training

Although, as a new graduate you should probably have pretty up to date knowledge of your field, further training is rarely a bad thing. You should be aware that many companies automatically offer development programs to their employees. If not, this is it something you can bring to the negotiating table. You are perhaps more likely to have success with this than negotiating salary as employers have something to gain from your development and training. As an expat in Denmark, Danish language classes could be high up on your list of desired training that your employer might pay for or give you time off to undertake. 


Finally, all the extras are worth thinking through before you negotiate wages with your employer. In fact, there may be many opportunities to save money via job perks such as a free mobile phone, paid internet, PC, home office, free newspaper, paid transportation or paid lunch. All of these things help to raise your salary. Therefore, you should include them when you assess the your offered salary. 


How to negotiate 

We've spoken with negotiation expert, Keld Jensen, who shares his advice on how to successfully manage a negotiation. 

Find your starting point, goals and pain threshold 

Before you enter the negotiating room, you must have prepared a starting point, an objective and a pain threshold. The starting point is your current situation. The objective is what you want to achieve overall, and the pain threshold is the point at which you do not accept the job at worst, or speak up if the does not meet your expectations or requirements. If you don't know these three factors, you aren't ready to start negotiating. 


You can prepare various factors that you want to negotiate for example, salary, pension, education or vacation. It's about being creative. The more you negotiate the more successful you will get at it. 

Select a Strategy 

Too many negotiate only on wages. This is called a zero sum situation where one party will typically be satisfied, while the other party will be unsatisfied. It is difficult to find a compromise and usually leads to a standoff. If you use a strategy where you think not only about what you yourself get out of it, but also what your employer gets out of it your negotiation will go better.

Prepare an agenda 

Those who have a well-prepared agenda are more likely to successfully negotiate. You should make it clear what it is you want to talk about at the beginning of the conversation. Set out the agenda for the debate and stay focused on them. 

Create the right atmosphere 

Instead of diving straight into negotiation try to create a good, positive atmosphere, talking about something else.

Avoid the boss's office 

Don't negotiate in your manager's office, giving them an immediate home advantage. Find a meeting room or another location where you both are neutral. Additionally, you get better results if the interview takes place on a round or oval conference table rather than sitting at a square and confrontational table. 

Be honest without being naive 

Always be open, honest and transparent when you negotiate. Don't play a games, keeping your cards close to your chest, bluffing or lying. The employer will probably check all the relevant information afterwards. If it turns out that what you are claiming is incorrect, you will of course lose their trust. Conversely, don't be naive and reveal your pain threshold immediately, as the employer will automatically make you the lowest offer. 

Create trust 

Your personality and ability to create trust is essential for a successful negotiation. Both in a negotiation and in the general business situations assume that your success will in part be the result of your work, training and seniority but the majority of your success will result from human engineering. That is, your ability to communicate, be well-liked and build trust. 

Avoid being unreasonable 

For example, asking for a 10% pay rise when the company has had a 15% decline you are probably being unreasonable. This can easily create distance and reduce the seriousness of the debate.

Use questions 

Many believe that you should have prepared a lot of arguments when going into negotiation. But these can get in the way as they can act as a defense. Instead, use questions to which the receiver itself to answer. For example, 'what do you think of my work?', 'what do you think is a fair salary for the work I am doing?'.

Avoid complacency 

It is important that you are not easy going. You should not just accept the first offer. If your manager's first offer is to give you a 4 percent wage increase, do not just accept it (at least not immediately). If you do, it will have consequences for the next time you negotiate, as your manager will remember that you accepted immediately and they will probably make you a lower first offer because of this. When you negotiate, you should always ask a counterclaim. If you are satisfied with the 4 percent, you should ask for additional development opportunities. This is not for values sake, but more the psychology of negotiation. 

Put yourself in the other party's situation 

Many of us, particularly in the Western world are too self centered. We tend to only think, "I need to achieve is ... or what is my risk." In fact, we should turn it right around and ask, "What would be a win for my employer? What are the drawbacks for them? And what does it cost them? If you consider things from the counterparty's perspective, you will likely be a successful negotiator.

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