5 salary negotiation tricks to raise the offer

Written by Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
Posted on

This article originally appeared on Payscale.

Good news, you’re not alone: very few people enjoy negotiating salary. The trouble is, failing to ask for what you deserve, especially at the offer stage, could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of your career. What’s more, most hiring managers expect candidates to negotiate.

“Any employer that doesn’t respect the negotiating process — even if it declines to increase a job offer — is doing bad business,” says Nick Corcodilos at Ask the Headhunter.

Of course, knowing that negotiation is OK and feeling comfortable doing it are two very different things. Data collected for PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide show that 28 per cent of those who have never asked for a raise refrained because they were uncomfortable negotiating salary — even though 75 per cent of those who asked for more money saw an increase.

So how can you get comfy talking about money with hiring managers? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall — practice, practice, practice. Beyond that, it pays to have a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are five to help you get a higher offer.

Don’t wait — name your price.

The conventional wisdom is to wait until a hiring manager names a number, ensuring that you don’t price yourself out of competition or leave money on the table. There is, however, something to be said for speaking first.

“The first number becomes an anchor” around which the haggling begins, Robin Pinkley, co-author of Get Paid What You’re Worth, tells Money magazine.

To prepare, do your research to understand the salary range for your job title and experience level. This will make sure you start with a good number that balances your earning potential with your actual worth on the job market.

Pick a precise number and don’t round up (or down).

To signal that you’ve done your research, pick a precise number (e.g., $42,000 instead of $40,000 or $45,000). Research from Columbia Business School shows that using an “odd” (as in, not rounded up) number can give negotiating partners the impression that the asker has done his or her homework.

“The numbers that you use imply something about the state of your knowledge. Be a little more precise than you’d otherwise be,” says Malia F. Mason, an author of the study, in an interview with Quartz.
Go for a salary range.

The same study’s authors conducted further research on negotiation, and found that offering precise numbers as part of a range can be even more effective — depending on the circumstances.

“Context is important,” Mason tells Time. A precise number could say that “you have done your homework. But if it seems important for you to appear flexible, then you could signal that by offering a range.”
Get (a little) personal.

We’ve talked in the past about avoiding “I need” statements in the salary negotiation process (saying you need a certain salary to pay student loans or looming rent increases, for example), but getting just a little bit personal can help.

One study showed that students who negotiated over email were much more likely to be successful if they shared personal information first — for example, about their hobbies or hometowns. Fifty-nine per cent of the “sharers” reached a deal, compared with only 40 per cent of the tight-lipped folks.

The lesson? Establishing a personal connection can pay off. Just make sure to avoid coming across as desperate.

Tie your request to the company’s objectives.

The most successful salary negotiators often put the focus on what they can bring to the company, highlighting any problems that they can solve. This last trick is especially useful if you’re a woman, because women are more likely to pay a high social cost for negotiating salary.

“One thing I would encourage women to do is to have a communal motivation for asking for more,” says Margaret A. Neale, Adams Distinguished Professor of Management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, in an interview with The Muse. “If I’m a man and I’m negotiating a salary, I can talk about my competencies. What women need to do is yoke their competencies with a communal concern.”

Neale reports using this technique in her own negotiations with Stanford.

“The whole theme was, ‘What can I do for Stanford and what can I do to help the Dean solve the problems that he has?’” she says. “This communal orientation — it’s not about me, but it’s about what I can do for you — mitigates the negative reputational effects for women.”

Do you deserve a higher salary? Find out by taking PayScale’s free Salary Survey.

See also:

The average Canadian salaries by industry and region
6 things you should never say when negotiating a salary

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