7 Things You Can Do to Change The Outcome of a Salary Negotiation

By Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

As a recruiter and now a career coach, one thing that I have seen is that more effort is placed on having a good resume than on negotiating salary. More effort is placed on interviewing and answering interview questions well than on negotiating. Most of the time, job hunters went into the job offer phase of their search with no plan or thought. It is almost as though they have been worn down by the search that has occurred up until that point and are ready to say, “Yes,” to almost anything. It is as though the possible embarrassment of telling their husband/wife/partner/friends/parents/kids that they are turning down a job offer is more painful that they are willing to accept almost anything they are told and anything they are offered.

It reminds me of running The New York Marathon and feeling exhausted and deciding, “I think I will take the subway a few stops and run across the finish line from there.” No. You persevere and finish the job you trained for so you receive the reward you deserve (I walked most of the last 3 miles when I ran New York, jogging only the last few hundred yards to finish). You don’t stop the effort when you are so close.

Yet, that is what so many people do. They abandon their effort and turn over negotiating to others, to “trusting the universe” and to a host of excuses, rather than finish the job of getting a great deal. That’s why I want to remind you of a few things before you enter into your next

What's more important to you? The money or the work?
What’s more important to you? The money or the work?

salary negotiation.

  1. You need to be clear about what’s most important to you in the next job or organization. To many people go into a search looking for a job and not being clear with themselves and with others what they are looking for, In addition, you need to get clear using objective research plus conversations with people in your network about what your value is. After all, employers are always going find “objections” to justify to you why you should accept less. Being prepared with research that allows you to swat away their objection by saying, “Respectfully what I am seeing in my research and in conversations with others indicates something very different than what you are telling me,” allows you to send a message that you will not be a pushover for them.
  2. Negotiating starts the first time they ask you what you are earning (if legal in your area) and how much you are looking for. If doesn’t begin after you have gone through 6 interviews and they are planning on making the offer. Every time an agency recruiter, a corporate recruiter or a hiring manager and/or their boss asks you about your current salary (if you are in most of the country where it is still legal) or desired salary, this is part of a negotiation. If you are asked something that translates into, “What is the rock bottom base salary exclusive of bonus you would find acceptable to join,” that is negotiating and most of you are not negotiating as part of your response. If you are asked, “Would you be a little flexible for the right opportunity,” they are negotiating and, most likely, you are not. If they are seeking concessions early in the interviewing, it is best to let them know that they won’t be given without the expectation of you getting something in return.
  3. Win-win negotiating means that you lose. Most people have been conditioned to believe that win-win negotiating is a good thing. “If I give up something,” they think, “and they give up something, both sides have made concessions. There is equal discomfort.” People think that is a win-win. In fact, corporations are trained to win when they negotiate with job hunters. They may squeal as though what they are agreeing to is so difficult for them to get approval for when, in fact, this is all theater on their part. I remember a client of mine telling me that whenever he negotiated with people from parts of the world where negotiating was customary, he always offered less money to go through the dance of making it seem like he made leadership jump through hoops to increase the offer. He just knew that they would want to negotiate and this is how he knew he could get them to accept the offer at the price that was authorized.
  4. Recruiters are not your friends. If you think the agency recruiter really cares about getting you the most money, I have some beachfront property in Nebraska you might be interested in. Really. Recruiters are only interested in closing deals and collecting commissions. Usually, they will work over the easiest person or party they can to do that. Do you know who that is? YOU! You are the easiest (most of the time)! They may tell you that they have tried hard to get the money you asked for. They may tell you that their client really really loves you and that they went to the mat to try to get you more, usually, it is only when you make it clear that you will turn down the offer that they will really put in effort to get the money increased.
  5. If you are told that there is no possibility of increasing the offer, there is one question to ask. The question is, “Why’s that.” After you listen to the excuse, follow up by asking, “Do you mind if I call your client?” If you hear a lot of protesting including, “No! No! No! You’ll blow the deal!” Consider that a signal that you should call the client. After all, you are being reasonable in trying to get the most money and benefits possible. Why would you want to work for a company that tosses you a bone and tells you, “take it or leave it?” Haven’t they heard unemployment is at 3.9%?
  6. Negotiating an increase to your offer may involve you practice your acting skills and making them sweat. If you’ve never The First Rule of Salary Negotiationwatched my video, “The Easiest Way to Negotiate a Higher Salary for Yourself,” it is a little less than 10 minutes long and one of my first videos on YouTube. It truly is easy but requires you to practice in advance of the offer. It is well worth your time to practice the technique I explain in the video.
  7. Your offer is not official until it is in writing in your inbox or in your hand. Do not turn down any additional interviews, particularly if you are dep into the process with that firm, too. Keep interviewing and negotiating until the time you are ready to stop. After all, while the first firm is doing the background check, getting final approvals, having the fields filled out in the offer letter template to send to you, another firm may make a higher offer for a better job, you may find the title in the offer letter not to your liking and a million and one other things are suddenly problematic. Imagine what it was like for the people who accepted job offers to join Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers the week after the collapsed. Don’t think that can happen to you? That’s what they thought!

Remember, you need to prepare for negotiating with a potential employer as hard as you have for an interviewer . . . or more! Don’t go into a negotiation without having prepared.

Oh! One last thing, if they try to negotiate hard and try to beat you up into taking a low offer, whether it is an agency recruiter or an employer, remember these words of wisdom from, “The Godfather,” “It’s not personal. It’s strictly business.”


© The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC, May 2018, 2023, 2024

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The Easiest Way to Negotiate a Higher Salary for Yourself

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