Developing Your Career


Three Tips for Fearlessly Negotiating Salary

By Lee Hecht Harrison on November 18, 2014

Some people thrive on the challenge of negotiation. For others, negotiating is painfully uncomfortable. Regardless of where you stand, negotiating salary is a critical component in the job search process. Realistically, though, negotiating shouldn’t be viewed as adversarial. In fact, negotiation is simply knowing your worth—based on market intelligence—and then going after it.

With annual merit increases hovering at three percent (barely covering the rate of inflation), you can’t rely on yearly raises to close a salary gap. Here are three tips for negotiating effectively:

  1. Don’t talk salary too soon. Yes, it’s true that the person who brings up money first usually loses. Most large corporations have structured compensation programs with established salary ranges for positions. Further, most organizations strive to bring people in at or below the midpoint of the range. Your goal is to uncover the range. So when an applicant is asked, “How much do you want?”, he or she can defer the question by asking for more details about the responsibilities of the position or about the salary range for the position.
  2. Wait until you have an offer. Once the offer has been extended, the applicant is in the position to provide a counteroffer. Your counter should be based on solid market research and your own experience, focusing on the demands of the new position. Check out,,,, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Lee Hecht Harrison’s 2014 Salary Guide for data that can help you determine the value of the position. It could also be that the job responsibilities have grown to the point where the position’s salary range could be upgraded.
  3. Your negotiating strength is knowing they want you. Although you now know that the organization wants you, you’ll still have to sell yourself to get what you want. Be prepared to offer tangible proof of your strong contributions and performance record. Still, there’s no room for arrogance. Negotiation centers on tact, respect and compromise. Offers have been rescinded during the negotiation phase if the company representatives feel the candidate is unrealistically demanding or is dismissive of an offer.

When it’s time to negotiate, don’t be afraid to articulate your value.  As John F. Kennedy said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

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