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Best Salary Negotiation Tactics and Strategies

By Caroline Banton · March 29, 2023 · 9 minute read

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Best Salary Negotiation Tactics and Strategies

Salary negotiation is something that everyone should learn. Increasing your income early in your professional life can help set you up for a more lucrative career, stable finances, and comfortable retirement. And every time you don’t ask for a higher salary or raise, you limit your potential earnings from that moment on.

The fact is, you have little to lose. According to LinkedIn, less than 1% of people reported that a job offer was rescinded after they tried to negotiate their salary. And 80% of those who negotiated saw some increase in their compensation package.

Read on for negotiation tactics and strategies to help you climb higher on the compensation ladder.

Best Salary Negotiation Tactics

To negotiate your salary, you need a well-prepared, data-supported argument as to why you deserve higher pay. The next task is to deliver that argument confidently and convincingly. Here’s how.

Research the National Average Salary

Before you begin the negotiation, check the national and local average salaries for jobs similar to yours. The best sources for this information are Glassdoor, SalaryExpert, Salary.com, Indeed, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Once you have the data, compare your salary to others’. You may adjust your expectations based on the demand for the type of work you do and the cost of living in your area. The latter is why salaries vary from one region to another.

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Pitch to Justify Your Desired Salary

You can use your data on local and national salaries as benchmarks in a pitch for your desired salary. Two major points to cover in your pitch are the cost of living where you work and the demand for your skills.

If you hope to buy a place near your employer, a home affordability calculator can help you assess how much salary you need to live comfortably and own a home.

In New York, for example, your cost of living will be much higher than in North Carolina. Reflecting the economics, an elementary school teacher in North Carolina earns a median annual salary of $50K. In New York, the median annual salary for an elementary school teacher is $88K.

By way of example, nurse practitioners are currently in short supply. According to the BLS, NPs are a fast-growing job, with demand expected to rise by 46% between 2021 and 2031. Compare that to the average growth rate for all occupations of 5%.

If there is high demand for your skills in your area, consider pitching your desired salary at the high end. All other things being equal, you may opt to work for the company that is prepared to pay you the most.

One argument that won’t fly? Stating the salary you need to pay your mortgage and other bills — that’s between you and your spending app.

Decide on Your Salary Range

Before negotiating your salary, decide on the minimum salary you will accept. Let’s say your research showed salaries from $75K to $100K, and you want to earn at least $85K. This advice can apply to recent grads negotiating a good entry level salary or mid-career professionals working toward a promotion.

If you provide a range to an employer or hiring manager, it’s safe to assume that they will negotiate down, so it’s better to state a single number. If your goal is $85K, try asking for $92,250. Being specific implies that you have done careful research and gives you negotiating room. Just be careful not to aim too high or you’ll price yourself out of the market. And if you lowball yourself, chances are you will be unhappy in the position.

Be willing to walk away if the employer does not meet your minimum salary. The company can always come back to you with another offer, and you can always find another employer.

Recommended: Is $40,000 a Good Salary?

Consider Other Benefits

After deciding the minimum salary you will accept, consider other incentives that make a job offer more enticing. The employer might offer perks — such as flexible work hours, generous paid leave, educational opportunities, childcare, excellent healthcare benefits, or stock options — that would make a lower base salary worth it. Thanks to stock options, some 10,000 employees who joined Microsoft in its early years were millionaires by 2005.

Understand Who You’re Negotiating With

Understanding the hiring manager’s position and negotiating style will give you the upper hand and help you choose the right strategy.

According to the Black Swan Group, there are three types of negotiators, and each requires a different approach. This is valuable insight whether you’re negotiating your salary or trying to win a real-estate bidding war.

1. The Analyst

The analyst tends to be realistic and not stirred by emotional arguments. They base their decisions on data. With this type of negotiator, have plenty of salary comparisons to back up your desired salary.

2. The Accommodator

If the person you are negotiating with is friendly and talkative, they may be an accommodator. That means a good emotional argument may sway them. Present your data and comparisons, but also emphasize that your desired salary will ensure you are happy, engaged, and better equipped to do your job.

3. The Assertive Negotiator

This type of negotiator is a no-nonsense, get-to-the-point type of person. They view negotiating as a welcome challenge, so you’ll need to be on your toes. Your data, in this case, will be less effective, so the best approach is to state your demands confidently yet politely and be prepared to walk if they aren’t met. Be willing to revisit negotiations later if you do not succeed with the assertive negotiator the first time around.

Recommended: How to Negotiate a House Price

Wait for a Job Offer to Negotiate Salary

It’s a good idea to delay salary negotiations until you have received a formal job offer. At that point, the employer has invested significant time in making sure you are the best candidate, so they are more likely to acquiesce rather than risk losing you. You can put off the conversation by remaining non-committal about salary until the time comes.

Let the Hiring Manager Make an Initial Offer

Often, a company will either tell you their budgeted salary range or ask you for your desired range. In either case, it’s customary to let the hiring manager make the initial offer before you start to negotiate. This will give you some idea of what you are working with.

Make a case for why you deserve a salary on the higher end of their range. Perhaps you have substantial experience or other skills that are unique to you, in demand, and valuable to the company.

Disclose Your Previous Job’s Salary

Some experts recommend not disclosing your previous salary because companies use it to gauge your worth. However, disclosing your salary gives the hiring manager an idea of what salary you might be expecting. When you start negotiating, you can still make a case for a higher salary based on your research into comparable jobs and your expertise.

Include any benefits you received from your past employer, such as bonuses, stock options, and other perks.

Recommended: Fulfilling Jobs That Pay Well

Discuss Current Job Offers from Other Companies

If you are lucky enough to have multiple job offers, you are in a strong negotiating position. It’s wise to tell a hiring manager you have another offer because it will encourage them to offer more sooner. The fact that you are in demand is proof of your value, and the longer they negotiate with you, the greater the chance that you could accept a competitor’s offer.

Choose an Appropriate Time

The best time to negotiate your salary is once you’ve been offered the position and before you sign a contract. If you are negotiating a pay raise with your current employer, your performance review is a good time to broach the subject.

It helps to discuss a potential pay raise months in advance. That way, you and your manager can agree on what you need to do to earn a pay raise and document it in your performance appraisal. Once you feel you have achieved those objectives, bring up the subject of a raise again and explain why you feel you deserve a raise.

Be Confident

The more confident you are when negotiating your salary or a raise, the more convincing you will be. Hold your head high and make your pitch clearly and without hesitation. Start the conversation off positively, and explain why you think you deserve more compensation. Then give the reasons why. Don’t rattle off a bunch of things, but present one or two data-backed arguments. For example:

“I’m really excited to work here, and I know I will bring value. I appreciate the offer at $63,000 but was really expecting to be in the $70,000 range based on the market and my past performance. Can we discuss a salary of $70,000?”

If all this has whetted your appetite for negotiation, don’t miss this advice on how to be a world-class haggler.

The Takeaway

Negotiating a salary does not have to be nerve-racking. If you have done your research and have identified a fair salary based on the market and your skills, be confident and do not accept anything less. The more in demand your skills are, the more you can ask for in terms of salary.

Remember to consider other perks and benefits when negotiating. Extra time off or stock options may be more valuable to you than an additional few thousand. The worst that can happen is that you decline an offer and move on to another employer who will pay you what you are worth.

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FAQ

What are the five basic negotiating strategies?

The five negotiation styles are competition, collaboration, compromise, accommodation, and avoidance. Competitive negotiation uses hardball tactics regarding the other party’s needs. A collaborative style uses a win-win approach and aims to meet the needs of both parties. Compromising is one of the more common negotiation tactics, but the result may be that neither party feels fully satisfied by the outcome. Accommodation is a style used when harm has been done to either party because it requires one party to “accommodate” or make repairs. Last, avoidance means avoiding negotiating entirely.

What are the best negotiation strategies and tactics to use when negotiating your salary?

The best negotiation tactics involve developing a convincing argument by researching the market rates for jobs similar to yours and considering the cost of living and the demand for your skills. Know the personality of the person you will negotiate with and choose a negotiation style that works for them. Next, pick the right time to negotiate and do so confident in the knowledge that you are worth the salary you are asking for.

What are the 4 C’s of negotiation?

The four C’s of negotiation are civility, competition, compromise, and compassion. When negotiating, it’s important to remain civil and avoid conflict by accepting that both sides have a legitimate point of view. It is inevitable that there will be some degree of competition during negotiation; each side wants to win. Compromise is often considered a sacrifice, but this ignores the idea that negotiation is a problem-solving strategy. Compassion contrasts with competition and calls for empathy and appreciation of the other side’s perspective. There must be a balance between competition and compassion in the negotiating process.


Photo credit: iStock/Inside Creative House

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