business team pulling up bar using ropeNice guys (and girls) finish last in salary negotiations

Whether you are an employee negotiating with a new prospective employer or a recruiter advising a candidate on their negotiation strategy with a prospective employer, you’ll want to be aware of the most effective salary negotiation techniques. Of course, many of you will be making use of the layperson’s advice, which is available on the internet, but you may or may not be aware that there are several research-tested negotiation strategies that can be used to help negotiate a higher starting salary, and I have outlined them below.

1. Always negotiate. This may sound bolshie, but if you want a higher salary, then by default you should negotiate. Why? Well, for starters one study by CareerBuilder showed that 70 percent of employers allow some negotiating room when making an offer, e.g. they shoot low, and if you don’t negotiate, chances are you will accept a low ball offer which you could have easily bettered with negotiation. But, how much could you have bettered your salary by? Well, a study by George Mason University suggests by quite a bit as the university found that candidates who decided to negotiate increased their starting salary by an average of $5,000. Always negotiate.

2. Aim High To Start With.  We have just demonstrated above that the initial offer you receive is likely to be below what the employer is prepared to pay, so the only way is up, but how far? Well, aim as high as you can within reason and without offending them, because a Todd Thorsteinson study, reported in the Journal of Applied Psychology, shows that those who started off their negotiations from a higher salary point ended up with a higher starting salary. So, shooting high to start with is a proven tactic to get you a higher starting salary.

3. Nice guys or girls finish last. The George Mason study looked at several different behavioral approaches to try and negotiate a higher starting salary. These were: Accommodating, Avoiding, Collaborate, Competing and Compromising. (There was no difference between male and female negotiations styles). While it can be tempting to be completely accommodating and capitulate at the first hurdle or rebuke, or even avoiding the hurdle altogether, this “nice guy” approach is least effective at securing a higher starting salary.

So, be prepared to compete with the employer, even fight for the salary you deserve, by being prepared to argue and counter argue, without being argumentative. Also be careful in your fighting style as the survey showed that a more aggressive negotiation strategy (such as ultimatums, inflexibility, pressurizing), did produce higher starting salaries, however, those who adopted a more collaborative approach to negotiation (showing evidence, discussing the job description) tended to be more satisfied with the outcome.

Therefore, it seems that a collaborative win-win negotiation approach will help get you a higher salary than not negotiating. Worryingly, they found that any aggressive approach, e.g. win-lose approach containing deception, misrepresentation, and threats, secured the highest salary of all but those who use this technique did not feel very good about it.

So, perhaps nice guys or girls do finish last when it comes to negotiating?



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