August 2, 2021
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Life at Cleo

Salary negotiation in 3 easy steps

Salary negotiation can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding process, literally. After training a couple of work experience students at Cleo on this recently, I was reminded how daunting it can feel when you’re just starting out. So, here’s a handy guide to follow, whether this is your first, fourth or hundredth time!

Step one: Know your worth by doing your research

Some employers (like Cleo) are super transparent about what you can expect to earn with them and include salary bands on job postings.

  • You could also use websites like Glassdoor, Linkedin, SalaryChecker to look at what other companies are paying for similar levels/jobs.
  • Talk to people in similar level roles at other companies and ask if they’re open to talking about their compensation packages. I know this can feel uncomfortable but it’s worth it; knowledge is power!
  • Ask agency recruiters. They know the industry and market so can give you an accurate and unbiased idea of what level of salary you should expect.

Step two: Manage expectations

In the early stages of an interview process, you’ll probably be asked something like: ‘What are your salary expectations / What's your current salary/compensation package?'.  This is completely fair, it’s important to align early in the process on a range. But - and this is a BIG but - you do not need to disclose your current salary package. Some employers could use this to pay you under the market rate. At Cleo, we’ll never ask a candidate for their current salary package, it’s just not relevant.

Fortunately, more and more companies are publishing their salary bandings externally, like ours. If they don’t offer them outright, take the proactive approach and ask: 'What's the salary band on offer for this opportunity?'

Step three: Nail it down

Firstly, Congratulations! You've got yourself an offer 🥂 The power now lies firmly in your hands. You might be happy with the offer and feel comfortable accepting your offer on the spot, if so - great! However, if the offer isn’t acceptable, it's time to start negotiating.

Here’s how:

  • Don't feel rushed, I always recommend sleeping on an offer before fully accepting, if possible. A good recruiter won’t pressure you into anything you’re not comfortable with. Politely get back to the recruiter or hiring manager and say that you're delighted that they want you to join and that you’ll take a couple of days (more if you need) to think about it.
  • Revisit your salary research - remind yourself what you're worth in the market and ask yourself how your offer compares to this. Think of an offer that you feel is fair and realistic and sense check it with a peer or friend. Remember to factor in any benefits and perks as they can be really valuable (equity/bonus/gym membership etc).
  • Be honest. It might be tempting to fabricate a competing offer but it's always best to be completely honest. If you’re found out, your offer could be withdrawn.
  • Rehearse the conversation with someone, don't go into the offer call or meeting unprepared. Write down what you want to say and practise this a few times. Speak confidently and go into the meeting with a clear idea of your ideal outcome. You might also want to consider your body language, even on a video call. Taking up space, leaning forward and maintaining strong eye contact can help you to feel more confident.
  • Don’t justify your expectations with personal details. Whether it’s your rent or a Caribbean cruise. Keep it professional and use salary benchmarking data and facts to steer the conversation.
  • Know when to wrap it up. Once you're close to an offer you're happy with, know when to settle. Don’t drag the process out and keep the conversations positive. You don’t want to lose the opportunity by holding out too long.
  • Get everything in writing, either in a formal offer letter or email and go through your employment contract thoroughly.


Negotiating salaries can be a daunting but empowering experience. Following the above advice should help you land an offer that matches your needs and pays you fairly, regardless of what you’re being paid now.

We’re hiring at Cleo! Check out our opportunities if you’re interested.

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