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Salary Negotiation Tips: Eleven You MUST Remember

Originally published on LinkedIn

I am constantly reminded that smart people can make dumb decisions when they are under the pressure of changing jobs, job interviewing and salary negotiations. That’s the reason I write as much as I do . . . to remind of you of what is in your self-interest without you messing things up while feeling “stressed,” “nervous,” or generally frightened during some element of your job search.

The time of the job offer is one of those times where people’s anxiety level is up. Unlike athlete’s and entertainers we read or hear about in the media, there are limited ways for you to improve your perks because they are mandated by the business. Few can be negotiated beyond where they are without exposing the firm to a law suit (Why did you give this benefit to “the man” and not “the woman, for example”).

Here are a few tips to remember as you walk into a negotiation :

1. Become clear about what is absolutely necessary and what isn’t before your first or next interview. What’s most important to you in your next job or organization? What do you need to see or know to become certain it is the right place for you to go to work? WRITE IT DOWN AND REFER TO IT BEFORE YOU START NEGOTIATING.

2. Make them fall in love with you and what you can do for them during your interviews. No honey, no love. No love, no money. If they settle for you because you were not their first or second choice, the offer may feel like “take it or leave it.” It doesn’t mean that it is, but it may feel that way.

3. Employers want to know that you are interested in their job. If you are, let them know that as the very last thing you do when meeting the last person on your schedule. When it seems like the Q&A is ending or as you are being escorted to the exit or the elevator, look them square in the eye (if you are male, you can do this while shaking hands; as a woman, I wouldn’t recommend it during a handshake) and say, “I just want you know that I am quite interested in this opportunity and look forward to hearing from you about the next step.” It’s like being the first one to say, “I love you when you’re dating.” It doesn’t commit you to anything but draws the other to you. As in dating, only say and do this if it is true.

4. Have an idea of your value. Just because you see jobs that pay $90000 – $160,000 for what you do, does not make you work $160,000. It does not make you worth, $90,000. It does not make you worth any of the price points in the middle. Your skills, how they are demonstrated on the interview PLUS the relative degree of desperation on the part of the potential employer dictates price.

5. Keep your emotions in check. Like they say in “The Godfather,” it’s business. It isn’t personal.

6. Anticipate objections. We see you at this level. “How did you come to that decision? “What criteria came into the evaluation where I was assessed to that level,” makes them justify/explain the decision that targets you to a particular job level and salary level and re-opens the discussion.

7. Be prepared to say, “No.” If you are out of work and only have one job offer, it’s hard to say, “No.” If you have multiple job offers, you can play one offer off against another and feel better about rejecting a poor one.

8. Remember, the easiest question to ask to see if you can negotiate a slightly higher offer. “I am really interested in joining YXZA Company. Could you do a touch better on your salary offer,” will sometimes encourage a firm to increase the offer.

9. Be reasonable. Don’t go crazy during the process. Sometimes people lose self-control and blow up on friends and family. Don’t set ultimatums with employers. Don’t listen to the advice of “know-it-all” sympathetic friends. Even someone who is doing what you do for a different company, does not know or do exactly what you know or do and cannot accurately judge your ability or value. The market defines your value, not your friends. People’s value today is different today (2010), than what it was two years ago. Hopefully it will improve in two years and create a higher value. But today, it is what it is and you can’t look back to what it was.

10. Find a place to laugh and relax. It’s serious. It’s important. It’s not everything in your life. If you make it that way, you will push away the people who care about you the most.

11. Win-Win means you lose. There is a fine line between being reasonable and giving away the farm. Practice negotiating on small things before you negotiate salary. Try walking into a Starbucks or McDonald’s and negotiating your purchase. Notice what it feels like to confront your fear and try to negotiate. You will learn a lot from doing that. Trust me.



© 2010, 2015 all rights reserved.

The Salary Negotiation: The Two Most Important Steps You MUST Take Before You Start

© 2006, 2010 All rights reserved

Negotiating Salary

Although some advise to never answer the question of how much you are earning when asked, for most people, not answering that question will result in you being given an ultimatum to provide the information or be shown the door. Although for executive talent, the strategy generally works because those rules don’t apply to them, for most mid managers and staff reporting to them,declining to answer questions about compensation is not a viable technique.

So what can you do? How do you viably negotiate? The best strategy is:

Hire an agent to represent you. Athletes and entertainers do it. Business executives do it (they are called lawyers). Hire someone to represent you and your needs and pay them to represent you in any negotiation whether you accept the job or not.

What’s Plan B?

1. Research your value. One thing you can do is use job board listings to give you an approximate idea of value. Don’t just focus on the salary maximum. Look at ranges and the size of the organizations and compile data.

2. When they ask you about salary, state your current salary and and any benefit that you receive that has a dollar value. Say that you are looking for an opportunity, not just a big bump in salary.

“Anyone would be lying if they said that money wouldn’t be a factor. Of course it is and it is for me, too. I’m looking for an opportunity where I can improve upon what I have now both professionally and in compensation.”


3. Once the offer is extended, do not accept it on the spot. Thank them for the offer and say you are pleased but want to think about it for 24 hours. During that time, make sure you learn everything you can about the terms of the offer and the benefits the firm will give you.

4. If the offer was for less than the salary maximum the company advertised, ask them how they came to that offer given that they were prepared to offer a higher amount in the ad. DO NOT TAKE WHAT THEY SAY PERSONALLY. You are trying to show that you did research and to see if you can get them to feel guilty and offer you more.

5. Use lesser benefits as negotiating leverage. Although for most workers, you may not be able to improve a company’s 401K contribution or vacation policy, if you are giving something up, get something in return.

6. If you are working with a recruiter, remember that they are paid by the employer and are not your friend. Use your mentor for guidance.

7. Be prepared to reject the offer if it does not meet specific goals . . . but also be prepared in advance to know which criteria of yours are expendable and can be given up as part of a negotiation.

8. DO NOT BECOME INTRANSIGENT. I can’t state this strongly enough. If they do not meet every condition you set, it does not mean that they dislike you or think less of you. Be prepared for concessions on your part and on their part.

9. Keep selling yourself and the impact that you will make, particularly with your new boss.  I cant stress this enough. Remember that,in most organizations, HR enforces rules that will not serve your interests. Managers can become your ally and push HR to become flexible.

© 2009, 2012 All rights reserved

No B. S. Job Search Advice: Negotiating Salary Through a Recruiter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains the dirty little secret of working with a recruiter and how to negotiate salary when you are being represented by one.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a recruiter for more than 40 years.

Follow him at the Big Game Hunter, Inc. on LinkedIn for more articles, videos and podcasts than what are offered here and jobs he is recruiting for.

Pay what you want for his books and guides to job hunting.

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to No B.S. Job Search Advice at

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

Trying to hire someone? Email me at

Subscribe to TheBigGameHunterTV on YouTube for advice about job hunting and hiring. Like videos, share and comment.

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No B. S. Job Search Advice: Win-Win Means You Lose


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains why you should not negotiate using a win-win philosophy.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.

Follow him at The Big Game Hunter, Inc. on LinkedIn for more articles, videos and podcasts than what are offered here and jobs he is recruiting for.

Visit There’s a lot more advice there.

Email me if your firm is trying to hire someone.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Pay what you want for my books about job search

Subscribe to TheBigGameHunterTV on YouTube  for advice about job hunting and hiring. Like videos, share and comment.

Trying to hire someone? Email me at

Do you need more in-depth coaching? Join my Coaching program.

Want to ask me questions via phone, Skype or Facetime? Have your job search questions answered.