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Negotiate your salary after an offer for a job in psychology

Published on: 13 Nov 2023

So, the interview went well, and you’ve had the call you’ve been hoping for – ‘we’re delighted to offer you the job’. Now comes the trickiest parts of the process – salary negotiation.

Whether you’re applying for a job as an assistant psychologist, or you’ve just landed a consultant clinical psychologist role, this post will help you. Find out how to navigate your job offer, sell yourself, and where appropriate push for higher pay.

Know your sector

If your psychology role is in the private sector, your employer may not have given much away. 

Many job ads simply saying something like ‘competitive salary’. 

Here it’s on you to do your research about industry trends. Websites like Payscale or Check-a-salary may help. Or you might want to ask a friend or contact in the industry to give their view.

Some employers work with bands on a pay scale. This is common if you’re working in the public sector, such as the NHS, or for a charity or non-profit organisation. In this case you may not have much flexibility to ask for more money. However, there is often still room for negotiation.

In either situation, good preparation and understanding the role and salary against your own skills and experience will stand you in good stead.

Keep selling yourself

You have an offer, so your employer clearly wants you. Show the same characteristics that got you this far - stay professional and back up your requests with evidence.

It’s normal when negotiating to ask for the top of the range. Shooting high shows confidence in your abilities. It can leave you with an acceptable salary even if their final offer is lower than you asked for. 

But remember to communicate why you think you’re worth that much. Remind them of the skills and experience you demonstrated in your interview, and how you’ll help them fulfil their objectives.

And don’t sell yourself short. If you think you’re being undervalued it’s perfectly acceptable to turn an offer down. There’s no reason to accept a salary below the market rate.

Be professional, be likeable

Your boss doesn’t know you yet, so it’s still easy to give the wrong impression when negotiating with salary.
Be patient in the conversation, rather than jumping straight in with numbers. 

Don’t negotiate for negotiation’s sake – choose the things that are most important to you and don’t wear your employer down with haggling.

Make sure they know that you want the job, too. No one wants to feel like you’re playing games with them or suspect that you might walk away whatever their offer.

And be yourself. Show that you can negotiate successfully without being argumentative or stubborn and you demonstrate the sort of characteristics that make a great employee in your psychology role. If they like you, they’ll want you, and they’ll want to accommodate your requests where they can. 

Time is on your side (up to a point)

A new job is a big change and a big commitment, so taking a little time to weigh up the offer could help you.

You might feel under pressure to sign on the dotted line immediately. But it’s perfectly normal to take a day or two to consider before you give your final yes.

If you’re lucky enough to be weighing up multiple offers for psychology roles, it’s helpful to line them up as closely as possible.

Don’t be afraid to slow one offer down a little whilst you press for an answer on another. But there’s a limit to this – drag your heels too long and your employer might lose interest.

Remember, it’s not all over once you accept the job. Your salary prospects may look different in a few months’ time once you’ve had the chance to showcase your skills and build up trust. Your boss may have more freedom with their budget, too.

Salary isn’t the only factor

Don’t be too fixated on money.  There are other factors to negotiate with a job offer, and some may be more important to you than the salary.

In our post-Covid world employers can have different expectations with flexible working hours and how often you’ll need to come into the office.

Make sure you look at the whole package for your psychology role. Harvard Business School has found that your career trajectory and the influence your manager and co-workers have on you can be more important to job satisfaction than your salary.

This means that you might achieve the right pay grade, but ultimately, you’re more likely to be happy in the right job.

Good luck finding your job in psychology 

If the budget’s available, employers are usually willing to be flexible on the salary offered. However, if you've tried all of the different avenues and the offer doesn’t meet your needs, remember that you can always decline the role.

Find your next role in psychology today.