8 Tricks to Negotiating a Higher Starting Salary

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g. you@yourcompany.com)
Please enter your work email
(e.g. you@yourcompany.com)

one ace card hidden in the sleeve for cheating purpose Many of you will find it difficult to raise and discuss the subject of money during interviews or contract discussions with a potential new employer. This is understandable, as money is an uncomfortable subject.

But this hesitancy to broach the subject of money with an employer is both self-limiting and nonsensical. Why? Because research from a CareerBuilder survey has revealed that a staggering 51 percent of employers plan to leave some negotiating room when extending initial offers to new employees, with a further 21 percent being prepared to offer two or more offers to the same candidate.

In short, most employers are expecting you to try and negotiate your starting salary and may have shot low in anticipation of this, meaning that if you don’t negotiate, they may get you at a knock down price. That would be a disaster for you. Therefore, you have a duty to yourself to try and negotiate the best possible starting salary, (but this must be done professionally and effectively) To help, I have set out 8 tips to help you do just that.

1. Believe in yourself

Many of you will be instilled with a strong sense of self-belief, but, naturally, some of us may not be confident of our financial worth to an employer. If you doubt your own worth, you will be starting from a weak negotiating position, psychologically.

Therefore, take stock of all your years of experience and itemize your skills, knowledge and achievements and truly understand that you are entitled to be paid a wage that is in line with this.

2.Understand the need to fight for it within the rules of negotiation

This second trick is another psychological point. While you may deserve to be paid in line with your experience, employers will have their own agenda and are not likely to hand you the salary you desire on a plate. If you do not act, you will not maximize your starting salary. You will need to make it happen, you’ll need to fight for it—fairly, of course—and within the rules of the game.

3. Know your market value

When negotiating a starting salary with your employer you must have a realistic understanding of your market value based on your skills and the demand for your skills. Why? If you shoot too high and insist on fighting for a salary that is way above your realistic market value, you are likely to antagonize the person you are negotiating with, causing them to dig their heels in even further.

Therefore, ensure that you do a comprehensive market assessment of your worth using the salary checkers from Monster, CareerBuilder and/or Payscale. I’d recommend checking all three of them for greater reliability.

4. Know how strong your hand is

Try and establish what the current demand levels are for your skills. If your industry, profession or locality is suffering skills shortages, the demand for your skills may be high.

High demand means potentially higher salaries. You can assess how much demand there is for your skills  by reading press articles and networking with colleagues. You can also find out demand levels by reviewing jobs boards. If there are many vacancies for your skills, with few applicants, this can indicate high demand. Also, if the job has been advertised for a while this can indicate that they are struggling to fill it, which could be as a result of high demand.

5. Be prepared to walk way

I accept this may not always be possible, as you may simply need the money. So, the best way to handle this is to give yourself other options. Try and interview for several jobs at the same time and progress as many of these to offer stage as possible. Tactfully inform your interviewer that while their business is your preferred option you have other good options available. This means that the employer knows that they cannot take you, or your acceptance of their offer for granted. This means they are likely to be more negotiable or start with a higher offer.

6. Don’t show your hand first

Yes, it’s poker rules. Let the employer make the offer first. Imagine if you are thinking $35K and the employer is thinking $40K, the simple act of going first may cost you $5K. If you are pressed to to give a desired salary, just indicate a broad range and say it will be negotiable subject to the full details and terms of the role being made available.

Also, when applying for the job, don’t mention your salary expectations in the resume, as you may quickly price yourself out of the market.

7. Negotiating and how to push the employer’s buttons

If the salary offer that you receive is lower than expected, then you will need to negotiate and explain that you believe that your skills and experience are valued at a higher rate than this. How do you do this? Well, the CareerBuilder survey highlighted four approaches to negotiation that employers were receptive to. These were:

  • Highlight specific accomplishments and results you achieved (48 percent)
  • Know the range of salary you want and have justification for the increase (39 percent)
  • Show an understanding of what is important to the company (37 percent)
  • Come prepared with your history of performance reviews (26 percent)

So, if you want to push the employer’s button and influence them around to your way of thinking in terms of salary be ready to negotiate using these four methods. The information that you have gathered in steps 1 to 6 of this article will help you with the negotiating in step 7.

8. Try a more indirect negotiation based around perks and benefits

If the employer can’t offer you the salary you want then you can try other tactics to get the money you want. For example, the CareerBuilder survey showed that employers who could not provide a hike in starting salary were often prepared to offer other perks instead, which you may find valuable. These were things like: more flexible work hours, bonuses, training, vacation time, more casual dress codes, academic reimbursement and title changes.

Of course, you can’t make an employer give you a higher starting wage; they can pay you what they like within state and federal laws. However, if you can engage in an effective negotiation process, good employers will at least listen to your case, but you have to accept that you may not get the starting salary that you desire.

If you fail to get your desired salary offer, and you have no alternatives, take a deep breath and review the situation calmly. Many employees ignore the value of the non-monetary benefits. You could find that, when all is considered,  working with the new employer, (even at a lower wage than desired), may on balance be a positive when all the factors are taken into account.


By Kazim Ladimeji