How to negotiate a higher salary

Confidence, preparation, and playing it cool are the keys to getting what you want

I was interviewing for my second job after university, I really wanted (and needed) the position, and after a couple of preliminary sessions with HR, I had a ‘final’ interview with the president of the company, a self-made, wealthy man who was 30 years older than me.

“So, what kind of salary are you looking for?” he asked.

“Well, market value for this role seems to be $X to $Y,” I replied. (The range was only a couple of thousand dollars – it was the 90s and it was only my second job, after all.)

I got the job – but the salary I was offered was the lower figure of $X, and I learned a valuable lesson: I was right to do my homework on market value, but I should have stated $Y as the low end. After all, my new boss was a successful businessman – if he knew I would accept the lower value of $X, why on earth would he offer me $Y?

Salary Negotiations Can Be Stressful

Most people, regardless of where they are in their career, find salary negotiations – whether at a current job or for a new position – stressful. Some people find it hard to put a price on themselves; some people don’t like the idea of conflict that can arise in negotiations; some people just aren’t sure how to calculate their value to an organization – and many of us find it difficult to be totally objective about money.

Salary conversations always go better if you do a little preparation – and even a little role-playing with a friend – beforehand.  This infographic by JobCluster has some good tips and tricks.  However, I will caution you about #10 (‘Playing the walk-away card’).  This is a very, very risky strategy and should really only be used if you do, in fact, have another (firm) opportunity to go to.  Because unless you’ve got extraordinarily rare skills and experience, most employers will call your bluff on this kind of ultimatum – and at the very least, it can taint your future employment with the organization.

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