Businessman Number Crunching Tax RefundAn often overlooked part of the job hunt process is getting the salary you deserve based on your experience and needs. Here are 15 good tips on salary negotiations.

Writing in The Harvard Business Review, Deepak Malhotra, a professor of business administration in the Negotiations, Organizations and Markets unit at Harvard Business School, says, “Every situation is unique, but some strategies, tactics, and principles can help you address many of the issues people face in negotiating with employers.”

Here are his 15 tips for salary negotiation success. (Professor Malhotra also has available a video of a presentation he makes to students.)

  1. Don’t underestimate the importance of likability. Negotiators can typically avoid these pitfalls by evaluating (for example, in practice interviews with friends) how others are likely to perceive their approach.
  2. Help them understand why you deserve what you’re requesting. If you have no justification for a demand, it may be unwise to make it.
  3. Make it clear they can get you. People won’t want to expend political or social capital to get approval for a strong or improved offer if they suspect that at the end of the day, you’re still going to say, “No, thanks.”
  4. Understand the person across the table. For example, negotiating with a prospective boss is very different from negotiating with an HR representative.
  5. Understand their constraints. Your job is to figure out where they’re flexible and where they’re not. If, for example, you’re talking to a large company that’s hiring 20 similar people at the same time, it probably can’t give you a higher salary than everyone else.
  6. Be prepared for tough questions. If you’re unprepared, you might say something inelegantly evasive or, worse, untrue. Professor Malhotra’s advice is to never lie in a negotiation.
  7. Focus on the questioner’s intent, not on the question. It’s not the question that matters but the questioner’s intent. Often the question is challenging but the questioner’s intent is benign.
  8. Consider the whole deal. Sadly, to many people, “negotiating a job offer” and “negotiating a salary” are synonymous. But much of your satisfaction from the job will come from other factors you can negotiate—perhaps even more easily than salary.
  9. Negotiate multiple issues simultaneously, not serially. Furthermore, if you have more than one request, don’t simply mention all the things you want—A, B, C, and D; also signal the relative importance of each to you.
  10. Don’t negotiate just to negotiate. Fighting to get just a bit more can rub people the wrong way—and can limit your ability to negotiate with the company later in your career, when it may matter more.
  11. Think through the timing of offers. If you want to consider multiple jobs, it’s useful to have all your offers arrive close together. So don’t be afraid to slow down the process with one potential employer or to speed it up with another, in order to have all your options laid out at one time.
  12. Avoid, ignore, or downplay ultimatums of any kind. Pretend the ultimatum was never given and keep [the other side] from becoming wedded to it. If it’s real, [it will be made] clear over time.
  13. Remember, they’re not out to get you. A delay in getting an offer letter may just mean that you’re not the only concern the hiring manager has in life. Stay in touch, but be patient.
  14. Stay at the table. Be willing to continue the conversation and to encourage others to revisit issues that were left unaddressed or unresolved.
  15. Maintain a sense of perspective. Ultimately, your satisfaction hinges less on getting the negotiation right and more on getting the job right.


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