Having coached hundreds of newcomers to Canada with their job search over the years, I have become accustomed to their shocked looks when I bring up the topic of salary negotiation. While most newcomers understand that negotiating salaries is a common practice in Canada, many do not feel that they can do this without Canadian work experience. I can tell you right now that I disagree with that.
There are many situations where newcomers who bring an abundance of work experience and continue to work in their field in Canada can negotiate their salaries.
But yes, if someone were to be changing careers and therefore have no specific experience in the job they are applying for, it would be difficult to justify salary negotiation.
The key for this to work is to show employers that they know the key differences within the industry (laws, procedures, etc.) and are sensitive to the differences in the work environment between their previous country and Canada.
I’ve seen many of my newcomer clients successfully negotiate their salary for their first job in Canada. And in this 2022 employment climate, where there is a major skilled labour shortage in Canada, it is a good time to start doing this.
So how do you negotiate your salary in Canada? Here are some tips for before and during the interview:
Before the Interview
1. Prepare yourself
Do research on what the industry standard is for the job you are applying for, using provincial salary data. Armed with that knowledge, decide on the lowest salary offer you would accept, considering your years of experience, your unique skillset, and the living wage you want. Think also about some perks or benefits that are a ‘must’ for you.
2. Determine your negotiation strategy & practice
How are you going to justify asking for a higher wage? Consider your strongest skill sets related to the job and use them effectively while asking for more than the initial offer. If you are nervous about the process, you may even want to create a script to practice before the interview.
3. Decide when you will stop negotiating
For the most part, no matter how justifiable it is to negotiate your salary, negotiating needs to stop before it becomes unpleasant. From my own experience, this is after one or a maximum of two requests. After all, offending or annoying your employer is not a good first step when entering a business/work relationship. Having spoken to human resource professionals, I know that job offers do not get rescinded just because a candidate tries to negotiate their salary, however, if the negotiation becomes too long, uncomfortable, or unpleasant, the thought could eventually cross the employer’s mind.
During the interview
1. Impress in your job interview
This point may seem like common sense; but this is for the entire salary negotiation process. If you do not feel that you have impressed the employer during the interview enough, you may reconsider your salary ask. During a labour shortage, employers may have to hire candidates who are not the perfect fit; even if that is the situation, they may not be prepared to pay over industry-standard salaries if they aren’t impressed with your abilities.
2. Assess your learning curve
During the interview, you may learn that there is a lot more that you will need to learn on the job than you initially anticipated from the job posting. You may learn that the company is using software that you have never worked on, and this will be a steep learning curve. It is always important to adapt to situations and make sure to take these considerations into account before you make your final decision to negotiate or not.
Do your research and equip yourself with the information to help you decide if salary negotiations are right for you!