Working in Denmark

Make your salary negotiation a party: Here are six essential tips


A salary negotiation is all about preparation. You need to know your strengths and good results inside out, and you must have the ability, will and desire to talk about them. IDA’s career adviser Kenneth Carstensen suggests thinking of the meeting as a party, where you are the centre of attention.

A salary negotiation can be nerve-racking and may overstep your boundaries. The aim is to present yourself in a way that inspires your boss to give you more money, even if this means overstepping your personal boundaries. You do not want to leave the meeting disappointed.

But it is a good idea to think positively about the meeting. This is your opportunity to ‘sell yourself’. A positive, and not too self-critical, approach to your performance during the year will be a great help.

There is no universal solution; it is not a question of one size fits all. But here are the most important markers to steer by.

Be prepared

Think carefully about what you have done during the year. What have you done well, and was the result important to the rest of the department? Note your greatest victories, and draw attention to them at the meeting. This will show how you have added value which should be remunerated. Found out what others in your position earn. You will find guidelines in IDA’s salary statistics and you can talk to colleagues and professional acquaintances.

You should also consider the company’s situation. If things are going really well, you may be able to ask for a slightly higher increase than you originally planned. You should also consider whether you have professional skills that differentiate you from colleagues in similar jobs. Is there something you can do that adds extra value? You need to put these cards on the table at your salary meeting.

Know your own strengths

It is important that you know what you stand for. Think through your strengths and explain why they are essential to the company. Choose a few projects or assignments which were particularly successful, and draw attention to these. Remember that, in principle, you are negotiating your salary all year round. In other words, it is a good idea to mention the things that are going well on a regular basis, throughout the year. It is not certain that your boss will notice without being prompted.

If you make sure to focus uncompromisingly on using your strengths during the year, it will bear interest in terms of better results, greater job satisfaction, more recognition and, probably, a higher salary.

Draw attention to your initiative

Managers highly appreciate employees who lighten their load – people who are reliable and trustworthy in terms of completing tasks; people who can be counted on. Employees who take on new tasks, offer their services, show initiative and are independent are greatly valued.

Naturally, you need to consider how much to offer and how much you are able to take on. Some may say they are not prepared to bend over backwards for their manager. On the other hand, if you are strategic and offer your services when it is really important it may bear fruit in terms of a higher salary. You should remember – at the actual salary negotiation – to draw attention to the situations in which you have lightened the workload and been an asset.

Be sociable and positive

As a general rule, you will gain extra points if you are a ‘culture-bearer’. A cheerful, sociable employee who spreads energy, shares knowledge and is helpful will often be rewarded. If you speak up and say “Hey, great idea”, or if you are happy on behalf of your colleagues, you help create a positive and dynamic working environment. This creates momentum and, ultimately, new solutions for the benefit of all.

You will be perceived as someone who works for the good of everyone because you stimulate a good atmosphere and seek solutions rather than grumbling. This will give you points, with both colleagues and your manager. If you can take this approach with you into your salary negotiation, and consider the meeting with your boss as a party, it will improve your position.

Make use of your colleagues

It can be a good idea to talk to your colleagues and ask them how they perceive you and where they feel you make a particularly positive contribution. You may have a close colleague or two who could help you identify your victories and highlights over the past year. Not many people are fond of promoting themselves to their managers, but you could benefit from the support of your colleagues. It is always nice to be patted on the back and to be told that you actually made a difference in a specific situation – and your manager should be told about it.

Remember yourself

Some people are good at selling themselves and talking about what they can do and what they contribute. Others find it much harder and prefer to avoid it altogether. A salary negotiation can be difficult if you don’t like drawing attention to yourself. However, it is essential to put your results into words if you want to climb higher up the salary scale. You should therefore consider how far you can go without feeling uncomfortable. Regard these tips as a source of inspiration and a set of tools from which you can choose.

The main point is that you should never leave it up to your boss to guess what you have done – he or she might guess wrong!