Tactic: The Order of Salary Negotiation

I’m a big fan of Google Alerts.  I have them set up for multiple topics including salary negotiation.  This helps me to see developments in the topic.  Most of the time, I find myself adding to my knowledge base.  Once in a while, I find myself wondering how people can make such recommendations.

A case in point is a recent article in the International Business Times Blogs.  The title of the article is very accurate – “Always Attempt a Salary Negotiation.”  I heartily agree which is why I started my blog. The article references some great research about negotiating.  It’s the recommended low-risk strategy that gives me concern.

“If nothing else, we suggest a low-risk strategy of saying,

“Thank you, I accept the job offer…but I wonder if there’s any room on salary?”

To me this is a classic “putting the cart before the horse” situation. You are no longer negotiating once you accept the job.  You may be requesting, begging, or pleading but it  definitely is not negotiating.

Let me explain why.  During the interview process both the candidate and the hiring manager is considering whether or not the two of you make the best fit.  The norm is that the hiring manager decides first if the candidate meets the company’s need. When the decision is in the positive, the job offer with salary is the first indication of that decision.  At that very moment, you (the candidate) now know the hiring manager’s decision and your own. That’s one up to the hiring manager who does not know your decision.   If knowledge is power than you just became the more powerful person.  The moment you accept the job the power shifts away from you.

Consider the purpose of negotiations.  It’s a means for  two or more parties to make an equitable exchange.   A job candidate has knowledge and abilities that a company wants.  A company has pay, benefits, and security that a candidate wants.  The negotiation is a process to decide how much salary, benefits, and security the company  needs to exchange for a particular candidate’s knowledge and talent.  Once the candidate says yes, the company has their answer and they no longer need to negotiate.

My recommended low-risk negotiation opening is stating something closer to these words. “Thank you for the offer.  I need to consider it before giving you my decision however, one thing that strikes me right away is that the salary is lower than I expected.”

So, yes always negotiate salary but please don’t start the negotiation after you accept the job. Start with the negotiation and you will be more successful at getting a higher salary than the original offer.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Tactic: Introducing Salary or Should I Say Postponing the Introduction of Salary

When is the right time to talk salary?  Right after a company offers you a job.

Why?  It is when you, the candidate, have the most power.

That is one of the reasons companies do everything in their power to get you to disclose salary information from the moment you send in a resume or fill out an application.  Most job applications will ask you for your job history including the salary for each position.  You may be asked to include salary requirements in your cover letter or application. During the interview you very well may be asked what you are looking for?

The best method to handle this is to politely and professionally respond to these questions so you can hold off until the timing is right and still be considered for the job.  Let’s start with your salary requirements.  This one is fairly easy. You want to get across that you are open to a salary range.  Yet, the company might push back to get a number.

Here is a sample of how the conversation may go:

Hiring Manager: Tell me, what are you looking for in salary?

Candidate: I’m open.

Hiring Manager: Open is a bit broad. I want to make sure I’m not wasting your time or mine.  What if I can’t offer you what you need?  Can you tell me what you are making at your current job?

Candidate: You are right.  It would be terrible to waste each other’s time.  I’m open but I’m also aware of the going salary range for this position.  I’m working under the assumption that you have budgeted this salary to be competitive.

This leaves it to the hiring manager to tell you if the salary is not in the normal range for the position.  Otherwise, the two of you are now aware that you have both done your homework and will be an informed buyer and seller.

Key to this type of discussion being non-confrontational is keeping a very conversational tone.   This type of conversation can be very unnerving the first few time you have it.  Practice the conversation in the mirror or with friend.  Change the words so they sound like you.  Eliminating any uneasiness by practice will increase the casual tone of the exchange and move the conversation onto your qualifications much quicker.

The application and the cover letter don’t allow for the back and forth that an in-person meeting allows but you may need to address salary on both.  In the cover letter you can state you are “open” to salary discussions.  In the applications you need to address it a little differently since there are blank lines or boxes waiting to be filled.  Don’t let them intimidate you.  Leaving things empty can fill like they are incomplete but this is a good thing for the job application.  On the first salary fields you encounter enter “willing to discuss”, “happy to discuss”, or “ready to discuss” during the interview process.  Once again, try to use the words that fit you.

Remember, the longer you can postpone talking about salary the better positioned you will be to get a higher paycheck.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited