Why You Shouldn't Negotiate Your Salary

It's the almost the end of the year, and for many of us, that means performance reviews, and hopefully, raises. But Keld Jensen at Forbes has some controversial advice about negotiating your end-of-the-year raise: as in, don't.

It's raining money!

(Photo Credit: thethreesisters/Flickr)

"The problem with asking for a raise is that your perspective is too small if that's all you've considered negotiating," writes Jensen. "You'll come to the table asking for one particular amount and your manager may not be willing to budge. Money that goes to you is taken away from the company in a typical zero-sum situation. Why should they make a concession? If there's no compromise, you'll reach a deadlock and one party is going to leave unhappy. Considering that your boss is in the power position, that person is most likely going to be you."

What should you do instead? Put more on the table. Come to the negotiation with a figure in mind, of course, but also with a list of perks. Ask yourself:

1. What would a raise give you, which you could get in some other way?

Some perks like free gym memberships or company-paid phone plans are just as good as having cash in hand -- because they're what you'd spend cash on, anyway.

2. What would make you happier?

Maybe it's more time to see your family (a flexible schedule or more time off). Maybe you'd like to travel more for work -- or less. Think about the pressures in your life and see if there's a perk that would alleviate them.

3. What would make you better at your job?

If your computer is slow and your software packages out-of-date, an upgrade would be good for your mental health and the company's bottom line. Many organizations will also pay for classes, which will make you better at what you're currently doing and put you in a better spot when it's time to move on.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your best salary negotiation tips? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


  1. 11 Ray 29 Jan
    The only way to get a decent raise is to go to another company which I have done a few times and most of the time the companies that I have left, employ 2 people to do my job at more than the salary that I earned so it ends up costing them far more.  Companies should value there employees or the end up paying the price.
  2. 10 David 22 Dec

    This is the dumbest article I've seen on this topic. Totally rubbish advice.

  3. 9 Elisabeth 03 Dec
    Totally agree with Bob! After working for 27 years, if you don't ask for a raise or don't threaten to leave you won't get anything.  The person who wrote the article is simply playing to the employer! totally counterproductive 
  4. 8 Ken 27 Nov

    I work for a non profit as opposed to the cut-throat private sector so filter my comments accordingly.  I think this article is worthwhile in pointing out that there are some things that don't show up in a pay check that are worth more than what is in there. Of course you should be assertive and ask to be compensated fairly for what you do, but if you are happy where you are (that's a big if, I realize) and leave for a new job where you are paid more but are not as happy, what have you gained?

  5. 7 andy 25 Nov
    I had a relevant experience early in my career.  I was young and new to my position (about 3 years).  I was not making much money and had to young kids so I went to my boss and asked for a raise.  He was a good person and mature in his perspectives.  So we had a conversation on perspectives.  He shared with me his view on our contract.  He said his job was to be honest and fair with me, and provide good work.  He said my obligation was to do good work.  He then said that he would like me to wait until the normal performance appraisal cycle was finished, he then said if I did not like what had been done with my salary to come back to talk with him about it.  that was the last time I ever talked to anyone about salary in my 40 year tenure with this company.
  6. 6 Ash 23 Nov

     This article is total waste of time. Get somebody from the real world to provide advise.

    I totally agree with Bob, and from my experience, this is the only way my decent pay rises were earned. I literally locked horns with my manager where he had one of two options, either pay more or I am leaving. Guess what? he paid, not once, but thrice, until I decided I had enough of that company.

  7. 5 Peter Szabo Gabor 23 Nov

    Agree with Bob. I hope nobody pays for this shorty-little articles a dime for the writer. It can be done (without any resourcing at all, not even online one) in a coffe-break.

    Also, deliver quality, and ask for more (again, one more point for Bob). If you don't get it, go away.

  8. 4 Goresh 22 Nov

    "Some perks like free gym memberships or company-paid phone plans"


    Would all attract FBT so, unless you are on the highest tax rate already, will in fact cost you significantly more than what they would if you paid for them yourself.

  9. 3 Mary 22 Nov

    Your first objective should be to be worth more money, not to get more money.  Frankly, if you aren't worth more, you are very unlikely to get  more.  Most companies except for very small ones know the market value of their positions.  You can negotiate an increase if your compensation is not consistent with market value based on your skills, experience, and the results you have produced (i.e., performance).  The time to begin a discussion about compensation is early in the year, not appraisal time, and should focus on how you can bring more value to the department during the course of the year.  That way, you can get direction on what you need to deliver to increase your value, and can use the results you produced during the course of the year to support your argument that an increase in pay makes sense.  Be aware also of your company's budget cycle. You need to be talking to your manager about your professional objectives for both job and compensation before budgets are set for the year.  It is much easier to get an increase if it is included in the budget than it is to make a business case for an unbudgeted increase. Also, be realistic.  Average wage increases have been stuck at 3% for years now, and that is where the majority of CFO's are budgeting.  This doesn't give much latitude to managers to agree to comp increases no matter how much they may want to, and they are increasingly focusing on taking care of their high performers with the limited resources they have.  Ask what your manager considers to be high performance and then deliver it. Use your proven value to make the case for your increase.

  10. 2 Delta 22 Nov
    Agree with the above comment. Its not necessary to quit or make the discussion any worse than it should be. The management should know what you want and if they can't that's ok. If they dint know what you want - you will never get it.
  11. 1 Bob 22 Nov
    Whooow this is a zero value article ...one of too many from you! Is the author confused? " "You'll come to the table asking for one particular amount and your manager may not be willing to budge...." duh ... that is why is called negotiation so that one party asks for something and the other gives a counter offer. Darn, where are you guys getting these writers from? I've heard too many times bs advices such as this. My advice is that if you're good in your job and you had outstanding results ask for proper retribution and depending on how this request is handled you might want to stay or start looking for other options. Companies that do not acknowledge value they don't deserve it. Incompetent managers will never acknowledge great employees... Remember that the times of being static, afraid and humble at employer's mercy are long gone! Grow a spine and stand up for what you deserve or ...chose to stay miserable and suffer; as usual the choice is YOURS!


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