Smart Tactics You Should Use To Negotiate Salary

An important tactic inside and outside of the office, negotiating anything, especially your salary, is a skill everyone should have.

The amount of money you make can make a huge difference in how much work you do, and how much you enjoy your job. A huge paycheck can solve plenty of problems, and to a point, can even bolster the kind of respect you get from others in your field. 

How well you can negotiate your wages will eventually determine how well you're paid, and that's makes it a pretty big deal. If you're looking for a new job, you should polish your salary negotiation skills. Here's how you can get a better salary using the power of smart talk. 

Don't go in blind.

Always, always come informed with the average wages in your field before you sit down. There are many employers out there who will lowball you to see if you'll agree to that - and why shouldn't they try? It would save them a lot of money if they can find someone who doesn't know their worth. 

So, at the very least, go in knowing what the average wage in the industry would be. You can even look up wages at the company in many cases thanks to sites like Glassdoor or Indeed. You really have no excuse not to give a decent attempt at researching things before you agree to an interview. 

Have three salary levels ready before you start.

If you want to get a decent salary, you're going to need to be brutally honest with yourself about what you would need before you could be satisfied with a wage. To do this, you need to come up with three different salary numbers...

The first salary number is your Forget It salary. This is a salary number that you would take as an insult, and would indicate to you that the employer in question doesn't take your skills seriously. If you hear the Forget It number, you probably should look elsewhere for a job. 

The next salary number is your Bare Bones salary, and it's the bare minimum that you could accept and cover your bills and lifestyle. Be brutally honest with your employer, here. You aren't doing anyone a favor by sugarcoating things when it comes to life needs. 

Lastly is your Hell Yes number - and it's the number that you would say yes immediately to. 

Show value, objectively, when it comes to your worth.

You want to show to employers that it is in their best interest to give you a salary raise - or a good salary. Things like proven results that are linked to you, proven track records of going the extra mile, and awards you may have hit will convince them that you're worth investing in. 

What you don't want to do is rely on personal ties to get that promotion or raise. This will just sound like you're trying to put a price tag on alliances at work, and that's a bad look. 

By anticipating your boss's need for results, you're making it possible to be more persuasive. 

Be willing to come up with a plan in writing.

Don't balk if an employer says that they will discuss a raise "later." Rather, ask what would have to be done in order for you to earn that raise - and ask for it in writing. 

For example, if you ask for a raise and are rejected or postponed, ask your employer what it would take to get a raise to a certain number. Make sure to get them to be specific about it. Then, ask them to put it in writing. 

This holds both of you accountable, and also gives you something to hold onto in terms of later negotiations. If they refuse to put it in writing, it's clear that your employer isn't looking to give you a raise - and that you should look for a job that would offer a better salary. 

Demands, tantrums, and ultimatums will not work in your favor - and could get your fired.

A very common mistake made by people seeking a raise it get demanding and aggressive with their request. If anything, this may make employers believe you have an attitude problem, or even make them feel nervous about keeping you on the team. So, don't make a scene and don't try to get coercive with the raise. 

The worst mistake commonly made, by far, is telling employers that you will seek employment elsewhere if they don't give you a raise. Even if they do give you a raise, it's one that's given on shaky ground. 

There's no saying that they won't try to find a replacement for your job under the belief that you may leave at a moment's notice - and the opportunities you're losing by issuing an ultimatum are way larger than you may think. 

Even if you can't get a raise, don't leave empty handed.

Things like coffee breaks, extended lunches, time off, or even just a better parking space may be on the board as well. However, you wouldn't know if it's doable unless you ask. 

If your boss refuses to give you a raise, ask if there's any way that you could get more time off, a better 401K plan, better parking privileges, or something similar. 

In many cases, employers will be more willing to give perks that don't cost them much money because of the fact that they want to keep you on board - even if you can't be given a raise for one reason or another. So, if they say no, don't stop negotiating. 

At the very least, as for more time off. 

Remember that "small companies" don't necessarily mean that they don't have the money to pay you what you're worth.

A common tactic that many employers will use with people who want to negotiate salary is that they'll tell the applicant, "We're a small company, and don't make much money. Can you work with us a little bit?"

This is a pity card, plain and simple. Many major companies, including college textbook companies that are known for price gouging, have been known to try this card to get employees to agree to a lower pay than what they deserve. 

Though we all need jobs, there's something to be said about working with a company that would try to guilt you into taking a lower wage. Simply put, it's not a good look and there's a good chance that they wouldn't give you a raise. 

Do ask - and have a number in mind.

Classic advice will tell you to either avoid talking about raises altogether, or to ask for a raise without saying a number. Both of these tips aren't good, because it puts a huge amount of power in the hands of your employer.

A good way to get better leverage is to take initiative yourself, and come up with a high (but reasonable) offer that you would want to meet. Then, explain to your boss what you can contribute that would make you worth that money. 

This gives both you and your employer better grounding on negotiation expectations, and also allows your employer to get a better understanding of what your value is in the company. Better still, it allows them to meet you halfway. 

Don't start low.

According to experts, starting low can totally backfire - especially since people tend to believe that premium prices are associated with premium quality. When you start low, you're signaling that you are not worth that much, and that can make employers doubt your ability. 

Rather than try to "be nice" and start with a low wage, go high and negotiate from there. Besides, it's really hard to build higher once your boss agreed to a low salary. 

Use an exact number rather than something generic.

Studies have shown that using an exact number, such as $45,750, makes employers believe that you have done your research. This makes employers more likely to agree to a wage closer to that number, which in turn means that you get a higher pay. 

Be willing to walk away if things don't go well.

There are many, many open job positions out there - and truthfully, if you really aren't getting anywhere with your employer, it's worth looking into other jobs or careers. It's important to stand up for yourself in negotiations, and to not let employers bully you into doing things for way less than what you're worth. 

That being said, there are many cases in which walking away made employers realize what you were worth and made them call back with a more equitable offer. 

Make timing work for you.

If you've been working at your job for a while, then you've probably gotten wind of when annual performance reviews will come around. Experts suggest asking for a raise three months to four months in advance of the reviews. 

The reason for this is because most employers already have decided who will get raises by the time of reviews. Broaching the subject early means that your employer will be more open (and able) to make things work with you. 

On a similar note, studies show that Thursdays tend to be the days where employers are most open to agreeing to raises. So, if you can, schedule the meeting for a Thursday. 

Start by asking questions.

Image via Refinery29

Negotiators often use "diagnostic" questions to help them gauge where they stand in a company's position, what employers really want to have happen, and how well the company is doing. These questions can help you determine how to "sell" a raise to your employer, and also tell you how open they are to giving you one. 

Some of the better questions to ask include...

  • "Tell me what you would like to see done this quarter."
  • "What was the average raise last year?"
  • "Would you be willing to raise my salary after six months, based on the goals you have in mind?"

Keep things positive.

There's a common reason why Negative Nancy types don't end up with good wages. A dour appearance often makes people uncomfortable, or just not open to working with you. With the "pity card," that kind of whining could probably end up causing bosses to feel bad and give you a raise - but later on replace you with someone happier. 

Think about it this way, people are more open to agree to spend money on people if they feel good about it. Instead of just asking for more, say something along the lines of, "I bet I could do a lot more the company, if I only had some extra cash for doing so."

Be polite but firm.

A little sweetness goes a long way - but you definitely don't want to be a doormat for anyone. If your employer offers you a wage that is not close to what you want, you need to be polite about saying no. 

A good way to go about it would be to say, "I appreciate the offer for $35,000, but I was looking more for a wage closer to $42,000. Can we discuss $42,000?" 

Cato Conroy
Cato Conroy

Cato Conroy is a Manhattan-based writer who yearns for a better world. He loves to write about politics, news reports, and interesting innovations that will impact the way we live.

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Smart Tactics You Should Use To Negotiate Salary