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Negotiating Salary Compensation as an Engineer

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One of the most difficult questions to either raise or come up during an interview process might just be “What are your salary expectations?”

Negotiating salary and compensation can often seem a daunting task, but it is a crucial skill for engineers, and non-technical staff, to master. It ensures you are fairly compensated for your skills and expertise and sets the stage for your financial future.

No matter how exciting the job opportunity, the potential salary, benefits, culture, and working conditions are critical factors in accepting or declining a job offer. These combined are key factors around future job satisfaction.

Of course, selling yourself to a future employer is vital in helping you demonstrate that you’re the most suitable candidate for the role.  But you should not forget that an interview is a two-way process – and part of that is ensuring that you’re compensated appropriately.

As you start your job search, it is important to think about how much you are hoping to be paid, and why. Though technical skills, experience, and competencies are essential for securing the right job, the ability to negotiate the right salary at a job interview is essential for boosting your earnings. Below, are a few tips for ensuring that you are rightfully compensated for your engineering and technical abilities.

How to Negotiate Your Engineering Salary

  • Identify What You Want - Before anything else, it is important to think about what you want out of your compensation package. You need to be able to strike a balance as you do not want to be working for less than your worth but pushing the boundaries with a salary that the company won’t pay can result in missing out on an a great career opportunity. You can do this by evaluating your skills and finding out what these are worth to the business. When you have a clear idea of what you want, there is less back and forth

  • Do Your Research - Before entering any negotiation, it is essential to arm yourself with knowledge. However, salary research may be a little different to what you are used to. Before you attend an interview, you should have a realistic expectation of what the job is worth. Investigate salary ranges for your specific engineering role, considering factors like experience, education, and location. Websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Job Boards, and niche recruitment companies often publish salary surveys, together with industry-specific forums that can provide valuable insights. This allows you to benchmark against industry expectations when trying to figure out how much your skills are worth, try finding out answers to the following questions:
  1. What is the average pay for this position?
  2. What are the salaries like in this location?
  3. What benefits are generally on offer? – this may be private medical, enhanced pension, training allowance, or travel assistance but it could be hybrid and/or remote working.

This ensures you are comfortable holding such a discussion if asked and especially if the interview process goes well and a potential employer wants to put together an offer that is compelling and exciting to you.

  • Timing is Key – It is important to start the conversation about salary in the interview process, BUT before anything else you need to convince your prospective employer that you are the right candidate for the job. The job description and role requirements are key resources here, you can analyse how much work you are going to be doing and ask yourself honestly if the salary is a fair reward for the requisite skills needed. It is inadvisable to negotiate salary until the hiring manager answers at least two of these questions:
  1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 30 to 90 days?
  2. What are the biggest technical or business challenges involved?
  3. What needs to be done first? and what resources are available?
  • There is a pay scale for a reason - Even if a figure is stated in a job advert or job description, most jobs come with an unstated pay scale that the employer considers appropriate to levels of experience and competencies. That scale may be quite wide, and the difference between the top and bottom levels could potentially be many thousands of pounds.
  • Present a strong case – Provide solid and rational reasons for your position. Clearly communicate your skills, experience, and prior successes, especially those that have had a measurable effect on a company’s bottom line, such as technology developed, project deliverables, etc.
  • Negotiate via Call or in Person – During the interview process, you will likely be in contact with the hiring manager, recruitment partner, and/or talent acquisition team via both telephone and email. While it may seem simpler to e-mail your negotiation requests, you should always do it in person, via telephone, videoconference, etc. This allows an in-depth conversation, and it is a lot easier to convey expectations and requirements. It is important to prepare so you ensure that you know exactly what you are asking for. If you are working with a recruiter, they can assist you with this. After the initial verbal offer, it is best to wait a day before requesting another call. Taking the night to think over the offer instead of immediately responding will help you craft a more thoughtful and clear reply.
  • Back Yourself - Regardless of whether you are asking for a salary increase, a bonus, or additional employee benefits, be prepared to back your request up but understand that most employers have a fixed benefits structure. Bringing research to the conversation can help you negotiate more confidently and effectively. If you feel as though you should be being offered more money or a sign-on bonus, back yourself up with sources that showcase what other employers are doing. If there is a higher offer on the table, leverage it. If you don’t have a higher offer but feel that the current offer is lower than it should be, you can use market dynamics in your favour.
  • Consider the entire package - When evaluating a job offer, consider the entire compensation package. Consider your priorities and focus on what’s important, ranking your priorities from top to bottom. Assess the value of benefits, work-life balance, training, growth opportunities, and the company's culture. A slightly lower salary in a supportive and growth-oriented environment can often be more rewarding in the long run than a higher salary in a less favourable workplace.
  • Do not negotiate for the sake of it – Do not try and negotiate every little point. Bad negotiation tactics could squander a job offer and future employment. However, a good negotiating strategy may convince the hiring manager that offering you more is a win-win situation. Remember most job offers tend only to be rescinded if the individual is “negotiating for the sake of negotiating” or their expectations are unreasonable and unrealistic.
  • Keep the Conversation Going - Negotiating is not a one-time task. If you need time to consider your options or want to compare offers from other employers, let them know how long you need. You don’t want to rush into accepting an offer, but you also do not want them to think that you are not motivated and excited about the opportunity. Keep in regular contact as much as possible and if there is something holding you back from accepting an offer, communicate that to the employer or with/via your recruiting partner.

Do not underestimate the importance of negotiating your salary compensation, especially if you are not happy with what is being offered. Remember to let the experts assist with your job search, guiding you through the application and recruitment process to subsequent job offers and career.

Redline changes lives every day, building world-class teams for technology and engineering companies. With four decades of experience, our knowledge-led people tailor recruitment solutions to suit clients’ specific needs. Get in touch today on or 01582 450054 if you need guidance on securing talent for your team.


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