One of the most common questions I get from my clients is, “How do I negotiate my salary in the Netherlands?” Who doesn’t dread asking that question? You may be thinking, am I going to sell myself short or do I place myself out of the market by asking too much? Negotiating your salary, and doing it well, is a game you need to play in order to get paid what you want.
Most companies have salary ranges for various functions, and yet there are always candidates who manage to negotiate it above the range. However, there are also others who will place themselves below the bottom. Often these different salaries don’t have anything to do with the candidates' qualifications. So, what does affect salary ranges? The answers are preparation, self-confidence and steel-nerves.
Preparation is the crucial step, and you cannot start early enough with this process. Most of the time, the question about your salary expectations isn’t something you would expect to be asked during the first interview, but it does happen very often. This is more likely when you are being screened by recruiters.
Knowing the salary range for a given function in each industry is crucial. One of the best sites to check salary rages is Glassdoor, where the salary ranges are often disclosed for various companies.
Gross and net salary
Very important to keep in mind is the difference between gross and net salary in the Netherlands.
Most of the time, you will negotiate your gross salary (income before Dutch taxes). Also keep in mind that the 8% additional holiday pay (on top of your gross annual salary) is a sort of 13th month payment. When talking about your salary, always make sure that you and your employer are talking about the same thing.
Keep in mind that often, depending on the size of the company, there could be other things to consider than the base salary. Those things could be the following:
- Travel allowance
- Training budget
- Company vehicle or public transport card
- Pension schemes
- Flexible / remote work
- Gym allowances
Most of the time, the ones who negotiate the best salaries for themselves are the ones who have a strong awareness of what they bring to the table. Self-confident candidates likely have their achievements written down. But how do you find confidence for yourself?
Know your value
I always advise my clients to clearly state their achievements and write down the stories or details which support them. Seeing your accomplishments clearly defined not only helps you to prepare for the interview but also raises your confidence. Ask yourself: What do you bring to the table? What specific and unique experience do you have that adds value to the company? The clearer you are about those aspects, the better you will be able to communicate it to your potential employer.
Balance it out
When negotiating a salary, the tricky part is keeping a balance between healthy confidence and arrogance – especially in the Netherlands where “being too much” is frowned upon. At the same time, however, you do not want to undersell yourself and be overly modest. That’s why it is important to have a list of your specific achievements and let them speak for you.
Anchor it high
You might have heard of the famous negotiating technique known as anchoring. When you anchor during a salary negotiation, you propose a salary at the higher end of the range. The idea behind this is that you can always go down, but you won’t be able to go up.
Use confident and positive language
When talking about the salary, you want to appear confident, calm and positive. Therefore, watch your body language, tone of the voice and the language you use closely. Cut down all the “maybes, ifs, sorrys and justs”. The best way to gain confidence is to practice a couple of times with a partner or a friend.
Focus on the benefits for the organisation
When stating your salary level and negotiating it, back it up with the benefits that the organisation will get when they hire you.
3. Nerves of steel
Negotiating your salary successfully often boils down to who has nerves of steel? A lot of my clients say, “Yes, Dorota, but I want this job so much. So, isn’t it better to start with a lower offer?” I always say, if you know that you can do the job well, it is much better to state what you are worth confidently and never undervalue yourself.
Accepting a lower offer is also never a good option psychologically. This is because desperation is not attractive. In the end, the employer might choose a candidate who asks for more, as they will believe this person will be able to do a better job because they know their worth. Keep in mind that while managing their budgets, most hiring managers are going for the candidates who they perceive as the best for the job – not just the cheapest ones.
Do not be afraid to push back
And what if you stated your salary and the offer you received is far below your expectations? Lots of people will have an urge to accept immediately. But keep in mind that often the first offer from the company doesn’t need to be the final one. Also, in the Netherlands, salary negotiations happen on a daily basis, so don’t be afraid to push back. The fact that they gave you an offer means that they are willing to invest in you.
Do you find it easy or difficult to negotiate your salary? Share in the comments below what helped you to get the salary you wanted!