Salary Negotiations in 2019 by Mike Hurst

How to come out on top, The Expert’s View

In September ASIS International re-launched their flagship event, now rebranded as the Global Security Exchange (GSX). This year the event was in Las Vegas, which for those of you who haven’t been – I’m not sure I’d bother. (Ay? Can I have your ticket then next year Mike?……….. Ed.)The event was great, but I found LV to be rather otherworldly.

Anyway, part of the event was The Career Center (US spelling) and I was invited to join a panel with two US recruiters, I have never met: the panel was moderated by a CSO. Now, I don’t talk to many recruiters, at least not about recruitment, so I was quite pleased that we agreed on pretty much everything.

We came to the subject of salary and contract negotiations and if age was considered an issue. The questions from the moderator are below and I will attempt, broadly, to summarise the answers given. Unfortunately, as is often the case, there are not always exact right and wrong answers and some of the answers are similar but hopefully they will still be of use. Caveat: this is full of generalisations

Question – Who are better negotiators young professionals or “older employees”?

The consensus here was that someone’s negotiation skills do not necessarily match their age. Younger people may lack the experience of these situations to be effective and realistic, but older ones may lack some enthusiasm and ambition. Whilst it isn’t necessary to agree with the other party, it is important the ability to understand their position as this will help you. Also, and this will recur in other answers, preparation matters. The three of us agreed that sometimes women are less likely to push themselves forward and more likely to accept less (there were two men and one woman on the panel)……

Question – What is the most important skill set to have these days, in a compensation discussions?

Preparation (see, I told you it would recur) and knowledge. You need to be able to justify why you should receive an increase. Just because your colleague receives and increase, it doesn’t mean you deserve one. Be prepared to quantify what you do and how that benefits your employer. Benchmarking can be useful, if you can show that for the role you are in, the going rate is X and you are being paid less than that, it may be a positive factor: Glassdoor and other sites may help. Always try to conduct these negotiations in a professional and friendly way. Avoid taking an aggressive standpoint and if you can negotiate with a smile, that can go a long way.

Question – What is the most common mistake people make during remuneration discussions?

Not having a clear objective and making unrealistic requests. It is important to have a clear understanding of the state of the market and how well your employer is doing. Remember, it’s not always about the base salary. Commission, bonuses, holidays, future opportunities etc, can also be a factor.

Question – Is there a change between young people now and let’s say, 10 years ago?

There is an argument that for some younger people, communicating face to face rather than via social media, text -speak and emojis is harder. This may well be true for some, but experience tells me that most people will adapt how they communicate and the language they use, dependent on the situation.

Many companies will, as part of the process of having a diverse workforce, want to employ young people and will try hard to recruit them, but younger people need to realise that sometimes the person recruiting is of a completely different generation and their expectations may vary wildly from that of the candidate’s. As an example, in the Summer, Dr Alison Wakefield, Chairman of the Security Institute, invited me to speak to some of the students at a security summer camp she was running at Portsmouth University. I was talking about the importance of business cards and one of the young Masters students said that no one uses them anymore. My response was that I do, and I’m a recruiter.

Question – Are employers ready for this discussion or is this still a huge leap for them?

Often they simply are not. Although if HR are involved, (they often are) they may well be more prepared. The employer may have a fixed idea of what pay increase they are awarding (or not) and may just expect the employee to accept it. This means it is extremely important to avoid being too confrontational and as said previously, prepare, research, justify your salary expectations, and remember to smile.

Hopefully there is something of interest in the above, but if you have specific questions, please drop me a note to

Mike Hurst CPP FIRP MSyI is a Director of HJA Fire and Security Recruitment and co-founder of He is the Vice Chairman of ASIS International UK and a former Director of the Security Institute. He also sits on the BSI GQ/3 Committee.

Mike Hurst