Best Salary Negotiation Tactics—How to Get the Pay You Deserve

By Chris Muller

| Photographs By LightFieldStudios

Negotiating a salary is something that no one likes to do. From very early on, we’re all taught that it’s undesirable, dirty, and base to discuss matters of money. No one wants to come across as a greedy, money-hungry person.

At the same time, people need to be compensated in accordance with what they deserve and, in many cases, the only way to get what you deserve is through negotiating. Therefore, salary-negotiation tactics are essential in any industry. Whether you’re trying to secure your next job or just get ahead in your current career, negotiating skills are invaluable.

Five minutes of discomfort for years of benefits

I get it, negotiating a salary is uncomfortable, awkward, and stressful. Many people would love to avoid it at all costs. However, they would be seriously missing out. The fact is, most negotiations are quick and painless. And, in most cases, the employer is expecting it.

Consider a raise of $5,000 per year. It may not seem like much; in fact, it would only add an extra $192 on your biweekly paycheck. But after 10 years, it could make for an additional $100,000 or more when you consider the compounded contributions to a retirement plan.

Negotiating your salary shows employers that you know your worth, you are confident in your skills, and can bring that confidence to your job and improve their business.

Shift your thinking

Negotiating a salary is not the same as haggling with vendors in a flea market. In fact, your employer expects you to negotiate to some degree. Salary.com surveyed 1,000 employers, and 73 percent of them said they expected new hires to negotiate salary. So what’s stopping us from trying?

Whether you’re feeling insecure in your job or you just wish to avoid the discomfort of discussing money with current or potential employers, you’re missing out on a lot unless you shift your thinking and start looking at salary negotiations as a legitimate way to increase your wealth and get what you deserve.

Now let’s take a look at some of the most effective tactics for negotiating your salary.

Research is key

Before you even think about heading to the negotiation table, it’s vital that you learn about the company and position you are talking about. Bartie Scott at Inc. recommends familiarizing yourself with both the company’s overall compensation structure and the salaries of previous people who held the position, including perks like bonuses and incentives.

The reason research is so crucial is that you need to have a solid foundation on which to base your negotiation. For instance, if you’re arguing that you deserve more money, then it will help to know what other people doing the same job make as a frame of reference.

Give them a range, not a specific number

It’s easy to fall into the trap that every new employer sets for new hires. Imagine this: You start the interview, and the supervisor immediately asks you about your “magic” number. Don’t fall for this. While we’ll cover more about this trap later on, it’s more important that you know to express your desired salary as a range, not a specific number.

Studies are showing that doing this helps you get more, especially when you put your desired salary near the bottom of the range.

Get personal

You may not think about how your personality might affect the success of a salary negotiation, but according to Harvard business administration professor Deepak Malhotra, it can make a huge difference.

Current or prospective employers are much more likely to grant your request if they like you, he says. In fact, the less likable you are during the negotiation, the less likely you are to get what you want. Here are a few tips:

  • Always be polite
  • Manage the pressure of the negotiation well
  • Don’t be greedy
  • Avoid pettiness
  • Be persistent but not annoying

It’s not all about dollars and cents

Although your salary could be a significant part of your decision to take a job—or stay in a position—it’s not always the biggest deciding factor. There are many other aspects of a salary that could make a massive impact on your life. Fast Company helpfully suggests a few other items to negotiate on other than your actual salary.

Some of the most valuable factors include time off, student loan repayment, transportation, subsequent raises, and more.

While these items may not have a direct link to the number on your paycheck, they will provide more value to the job and could help keep more money in your pocket in the long run.

Don’t discuss money until there is an offer

Going back to employers who like to start interviews off by asking about your desired salary—it’s essential to avoid these situations. It’s best to avoid talking about money at all until either you or the employer puts forward a working offer.

Job-search expert Randall S. Hansen says talking about salary too early in the process can also make you seem too focused on money. He similarly suggests deferring the discussion about compensation with a prospective employer until you know you’re among the final candidates.

A great way to avoid the dreaded question is by merely delaying it to the end of the interview or using it as an opportunity to show the employer that you have done your research.

In addition, you should never disclose your current salary to a prospective employer. This would be like laying your cards on the table before everybody has placed their bets, and it means you probably won’t get what you want.

Know your worth and be confident

One of the last and most vital steps in a salary negotiation is explaining why you’re worth what you’re asking. This includes listing things like your accolades, accomplishments, experience, qualifications, and other factors that make you worth a company’s time and money.

What you want to focus on, according to business coach Pamela Slim, is the value that you do or can bring to the company. This includes how you can make them more efficient, save them money, or otherwise contribute to the success and growth of the organization.

This is also another chance for you to flex your research skills. Come to the table with real numbers and new information that may surprise. Give specific examples of ways you can improve the business with concrete numbers, and it will further prove your worth.

Negotiate at least one counter offer

At this point, you might start to feel giddy about the idea of negotiating your salary. You’ve felt the power and begun to see these tips work practically. Your potential employer has come to you with an offer. What now?

During the final stages of a salary negotiation, you’re going to be impatient, anxious, and wanting to get everything sorted immediately. But whether you’re waiting for an answer from the employer or waiting to answer an offer, it’s integral that you not rush the process.

If an employer has made you an offer, don’t accept it too quickly. Rather than saying yes immediately, ask for a few days to think about it. This is especially true when you’re negotiating with a prospective employer. You want to be sure the offer and the company are the right fit.

Instead, you should consider a fair counter offer. While keeping in mind all aspects of the proposal, including the monetary salary, benefits, and non-monetary perks—like travel, time off, etc.—you should come up with an offer that takes everything important to you into consideration.

This is the final step in the negotiation and one last chance to show your worth to the company. It’s important you don’t come across as desperate, money-hungry, or ungrateful.

Summary

Negotiating a salary is tough to do. Not only does it involve a measure of face-to-face confrontation that most people would prefer to avoid, but it also requires some finesse with the negotiation process.

But whether you’re applying for a new job or trying to get a better salary from a current employer, knowing these tactics will help you get the pay you deserve. The key takeaways to remember are to be prepared, have a range in mind, don’t lay all your cards on the table, be ready to prove yourself, and be patient with the process.


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This article was written by Chris Muller from Money Under 30 and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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