Salary negotiations: how to discuss your salary

Salary negotiations. So far, everything has gone well. You sent off your resume and your cover letter, and you were invited for a job interview! And now – now it’s all about the salary. What do you expect? What do you deserve? Salary is a very important factor to consider. 

Most of all, it’s important that you have a well-reasoned answer ready. That you have your arguments ready so you can discuss your salary. You need to have researched and thought about this before the question arises. Read along and find out everything you need to know before the talk turns to salaries. 


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Be prepared for your salary negotiation

Maybe you have to re-negotiate your salary in your current position. Or maybe you have an interview and you are dreading the question “what do you think is a fair salary?”. Regardless, you need to have a well-prepared answer ready. There’s no way around it.

As such, it is important that you, before your interview or meeting, have reflected and thought about this. Because this is something you need to know.


Knowledge is power

You can start by looking at the average salary for the given position within that specific industry. But do not let yourself be held back by these numbers. If you want to use them, use them as guidelines. There is no shame in trying to increase your salary, as long as you can argue your case. 

So, think over some well-founded and solid arguments for why you should receive the salary you would like. Find arguments for why you are worth this salary. These could be results you have achieved or, if you work there, money you have earned the business already. If you are at an interview, you might use specific competencies as your argument. These competencies should be some that divide you positively from your peers and should be able to quickly achieve results that your future employer can earn from. 

In this type of discussion, information and argumentation are key. The more you know about averages in salaries, your competencies, the expectations of the employer, the more you have to argue with. Furthermore, showing that you are well-informed only puts you in a good light. It will be clear to your employer that you have looked into things and clearly reflected upon these matters. Even if you aren’t a natural negotiator, these small actions can make a huge difference. 

Money isn’t all 

You have to realize that money isn’t all when it comes to salary negotiations. Sometimes, for some reason or another, it simply isn’t possible for you to get the salary you want. This, however, does not mean that you cannot receive other perks until you can get the salary you are interested in. It doesn’t have to be everything or nothing at all. So, be ready to consider some alternatives to cold hard cash, in case your wishes in regards to salary cannot be accommodated. This should be considered prior to your talk. You might be interested in holidays, days off or parking? Below is a list of possible perks you can consider:

  • pension
  • parking
  • Holidays and days off
  • Electronics (work phone, computer, etc.)
  • courses*
  • certifications* 

Courses and certifications

Don’t be fooled by the sensible nature of courses and certifications as a perk. Consider them to be diamonds in the rough. Courses and certifications will, without doubt, make you even better at your job and help you argue your way to a higher salary at your next salary negation. You have to consider things long term when thinking of perks. Courses and certifications (which are actually quite expensive if you have to pay for them yourself) can enable you to work on your professional profile and your competencies, allowing for further arguments you can use in discussion of your salary increase. Or, they might just be the things that set you apart at your next job interview. These courses or certificates may just land you your dream job. 

You won’t be cast aside for aiming a little higher

Is this something you have thought of? That you definitely can’t propose too high a salary in case they just cast you aside and choose a different candidate? Then you have to know that this is not going to happen. Salary negotiations are much like any other negotiation: each of you will start in your respective corner (theirs somewhat low, yours somewhat high) and you’ll meet somewhere in the middle. This is to be expected, which is precisely why you should not worry about aiming too high. Especially, if you have some solid argumentation on your side. That’s not to say that you should start with an incredibly high unrealistic figure, but you’re allowed (and expected) to be a bit ambitious. If you under-play your hand, you have lost before the game has even started.  

Example of a possible answer when asked about salary expectations

“So, what do you think would be a fair salary?”

Make sure to go through one argument at a time. This makes it easier for your employer. 

A possible list of things and arguments to get into is:





Start with your experience

“I have 6 years of experience with communications through my student jobs at InfoMedia and Coloplast”


Then continue on to your specific competencies

“Through my time at Coloplast, I have developed competencies within social media analysis and the development of employee branding” 

Then end off with an argument showing how these experiences and competencies either have or will earn results at the given workplace:

“These particular competencies have allowed me the opportunity to work with the branding of the company’s position, which has resulted in X” or “I know these particular competencies would allow me to help you further your company’s global image through employee branding”. 

“Based on these arguments – my experience, competencies and results – I believe that XXXX is an acceptable salary”.


Salary within the public sector

If you are working in or looking for work within the public sector in Denmark, it is important to note a few key factors. In Denmark, salary within the public sector is decided by “salary steps”. That is to say that there are specific (and non-negotiable) steps of which each simple step corresponds to a given salary. These steps are pre-defined and therefore non-negotiable. 

However, it is important to note that where you, as a candidate, fall on these steps is decided through your competencies and qualifications. Therefore, it is pivotal that you sell yourself and your qualities. It’s all about how competent you are able to present yourself. This might allow you to start on a higher salary step.

As an example, someone with the experience of “boy scout leader for three years” might start on salary step 2, while someone with a certification from a leadership course might be able to start on salary step 4, even though they have the same position. This is why it is so important to prepare these arguments beforehand. 

And remember! All experience counts! So do count your student jobs or your volunteer work! Just remember to adapt each argument to the given position and argue how each is relevant for the position and your salary.