10 Tips For Salary Negotiation

Last Updated Aug 5, 2011 3:06 AM EDT

It's a fabulous thing when you finally get a job offer. If you've been unemployed for a while, you're tempted to just jump at the offer and start working. This is understandable and certainly, if the offer is a fair one, not a bad idea. But, for most jobs, the offer or merely the question of, "How much are you looking for?" is the time for the dreaded salary negotiation.

Psyblog took a look at numerous different psychological studies and came up with 10 strategies that can help you in your salary negotiations. The whole article is worth reading, but here are the highlights:
  1. Open negotiations
  2. You should set the anchor
  3. Start high
  4. Make a joke
  5. Compete
  6. Collaborate
  7. Win-win feels better, but nets less
  8. Avoid compromise and accommodation
  9. Forget gender stereotypes
  10. Be bold
Some of this is quite different from what you've heard in the past. The conventional wisdom is that he who speaks first, loses. But they say studies suggest that you're more likely to be successful if you speak up first. This counsel applies not only to an original job offer, but is also important when you are looking to get a promotion. No one cares about your career like you do, so sometimes (often!) you need to be the one to speak up and say, "Hey, I want a promotion!"

It is surprising to find joking on the list as well, because money is such serious business, but it makes good sense. Money is serious and everyone is uncomfortable talking about it (another instance of where culture rears it's ugly head), so if you can inject some humor it takes some of the tension out of the room and makes negotiations easier.

One key point is that you must look out for yourself. The hiring manager and the recruiter are looking out for their selves and the company. And remember that salary negotiations also include perks. If flex time or telecommuting is more valuable to you than salary, the salary negotiations is the time to talk about telecommuting. Don't negotiate a salary and then say, "By the way, I also want to work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

The advice to "avoid compromise and accommodation" seems to fly in the face of reality. If the hiring manager has a firm budget of $75,000 for the position and you keep insisting that you will accept nothing less than $80,000, you'll find yourself offered a handshake and a "thank you so much, but we'll go with our second choice." This isn't to say that companies generally withdraw offers if you ask for more money (rare, but it does happen), but that at some point you need to compromise.

Also keep in mind that you need to be negotiating around what the market is paying for similar positions, not what you earned before you were laid off.

But, all in all, these tips are ones that will help you through the tedious and treacherous game we call salary negotiations.

For further reading:
Photo by connorwithonen, Flickr cc 2.0

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