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6 Tricks to Get You the Salary You Deserve

Whether your goal is a raise after 10 years in the same position or you're a potential new hire preparing a counteroffer, talking about money can be uncomfortable, and salary negotiation is an art. To help you master it, here is a roundup of research- and expert-based tips and insights to equip your negotiating toolkit.

Whether your goal is a raise after 10 years in the same position or you’re a potential new hire preparing a counteroffer, talking about money can be uncomfortable, and salary negotiation is an art. To help you master it, here is a roundup of research- and expert-based tips and insights to equip your negotiating toolkit.

Mike Kline - Flickr

(Photo Credit: Mike Kline/Flickr)

1. Ask for a meeting. 

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If you are after more money, the obvious first step is to schedule a meeting with your employer in which to ask for it. Before you enter the lion’s den, however, do your homework. Bring in research on current industry salary averages (if they work in your favor) and prepare a list of specific examples that illustrate the different ways you’re an asset to the company (e.g. “I made you $17 billion dollars last year, and Janet from HR won’t stop raving about the cupcakes I bring to the cafeteria every Wednesday.”).

2. Propose a range with strategic “anchor” numbers.

Now that you’ve made a case for what you bring to the table, its time to bring up actual numbers. To do this, consider proposing a range as opposed to a specific dollar amount. According to a recent study conducted by Columbia Business School researchers Daniel Ames and Malia Mason, who refer to their negotiation method as “tandem anchoring,” the low end of the range should be your target salary, and the high number should be more ambitious. 

The co-authors’ findings, which are based on five separate “scripted negotiation scenarios and live dyadic negotiations,” contradict the common belief held by many negotiation experts and social psychologists, that the recipient of a range-based offer will focus on the lowest number in the range, and immediately dismiss the higher one. 

“For years, we taught students to avoid making range offers in negotiations, assuming that counterparts receiving those offers would have selective attention, hearing only the end of the range that was attractive to them,” according to Ames. “Our results surprised us, up-ending how we teach the topic. We can’t say that range offers work 100% of the time, but they definitely deserve a place in the negotiator’s toolkit.”

3. Avoid certain words and phrases.

Career and negotiation experts warn that certain words and phrases in a conversation can be immediate deterrents in a negotiating scenario. HR expert and editor Jessica Miller-Merrell, for example, emphasizes the importance of confidence overall, and warns against using all “uncertain words” including “I think” and “maybe.” 

At the same time, its important not to be overly aggressive. Statements such as, “this is my bottom line” or “this is my final/last offer,” for example can come across as hostile, and even end a negotiation altogether, according to HR expert Steve Kane.

“If you say any of these things, and the demand is not met by the employer, the negotiation will be over and you’ll have to be prepared to walk away,” Kane says.

4. Don’t be afraid of “No.”

For many people, a salary negotiation is an intimidating conversation you want to get over with rather than a fun conversation you look forward to. Because of this, it can be easy to want to abandon the discussion entirely at the first inkling of confrontation. Avoid this instinct. If your first offer is refused, take a moment to collect yourself and calmly and confidently return with a counteroffer (that you prepared prior to the conversation).

5. Don’t say “No.”

Similarly, if an employer proposes a number that’s lower than what you want, don’t simply walk away — at least not right away. Instead, treat the figure as a jumping off point and respectfully return with a counteroffer.

“In negotiations, you’ll have to be willing to be flexible,” says author and career coach, Ryan Kahn, who agrees that you should come back with a number or range of your own if your employer’s proposal “isn’t in line with what you are seeking.”

6. Don’t use another offer as leverage.

You know the practical pearl of wisdom that warns not to bring up another guy to make your current boyfriend jealous? Even if it can be argued that said tactic comes from an understandable motivation such as not feeling appreciated, using it is more likely to result in resentment or an ugly argument than a bouquet of fresh flowers. Equally tacky is to play other offers against the one on the table if you’re negotiating with a potential employer as a prospective new hire.

“Only discuss the offer at hand,” instructs workplace expert Lynn Taylor, especially if it’s actually the only one you have. “You could shoot yourself in the foot,” Taylor adds. “The hiring manager may ask you to elaborate and if you’re bluffing, it’ll be hard to save face.”

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Have you had a successful salary negotiation experience with a current or future employer? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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18 Comments on "6 Tricks to Get You the Salary You Deserve"

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Job Seeker

This doesn’t work well if you’re applying to/interviewing with smaller companies. The majority of the time, there is no negotiating. It’s “you take what we give you” and that’s that. The competition is so fierce out there.

A bird in hand is worth more than 2 in the bush. This is a true statement. Most employers are looking for individuals whom will gladly take on more responsibility for less pay. Thus if the national standard average for your position is 50k/yr. the average employer is looking to pay 10% less. Also area location plays a huge toll. If your in New York City @ 50k your flipping burgers at McDonald’s. If your in smallville Alabama your Operations Manager of 50+ emps. I suggest holding out & find the job / pay you deserve, & then let your… Read more »
Tony Locke

Re: 6. Don’t use another offer as leverage.

I’ve heard a lot of conflicting advice regarding this. My most recent employer was aggravated that I did not allow him the opportunity to counter after I submitted my resignation. I have no real idea about the validity of this – if I come with an offer in hand, they can match it and get annoyed that I was out there looking. If I accept the offer outright,they can get annoyed that I didn’t give them the opportunity (as in my case).

I am a terrible negotiator myself. How do you recommend I negotiate with a large bank that claims that a certain percentage is bank wide and they have no control over this. I have been with this bank for 38 years and in my current position as a Business Analyst for 5 years. My job consists of transitioning new accounts into my area, acquisitions, testing, troubleshooting and resolving issues, etc. I am a female and have been told by many people including my boss that I am a “Go To” person and have a wealth of knowledge. When it comes… Read more »
These suggestions are very common sense, and actually look like they’re tilting the conversation away from tricks and gimmicks and towards serious conversations. 1. If you don’t bring the subject up, an employer probably won’t do it for you. 2. What range should you be talking about? Here’s what I need (want), and here’s what would be the most I’m worth. Those are your end points. Just make sure that what you need (want) isn’t more than you’re worth (see also point 7). But a range is much more flexible and cooperative than simply putting a single number. It indicates… Read more »
It is so important to be assertive when it comes to pay. One reason women make less than men is we are less likely to ask for more money when offered a job or ask for an increase in our compensation or raise. We usually simply take what is offered with a “thank you”, I have been on my job as a Department Manager for seven years. Each year I was getting about 3% as a “merit” increase. Two years ago, after coaching from my brother, I asked for a meeting to discuss my compensation right before my annual review… Read more »
Jim Power

Although the strategies listed in the article are helpful, if you have the accomplishments to support / justify a salary increase, perhaps companies should consider a fair and competitive salary range for each employee position instead of playing the game of asking before the 1st interview. If a salary range is too low for me, I “self-select out” and don’t waste time creating a modified resume with key words and a targeted cover letter.

Food for thought from an article in Inc. Magazine:

Ken C

My wife is interviewing for a job next week. She will be working for a state agency if she is hired. They gave a pay range on the job posting for the specific job and specific agency. She has all the qualifications required and preferred plus more. What would be the best method of negotiation, if she’s hired, to get the higher end of the salary range.



Daryl Locklear
If i may…a few more thoughts…for new hires…1. We are told in our employment workshops to leave salary discussions for the second interview. Sometimes a company will get pushy and persist in knowing what salary you expect in the first interview, and sometimes even before the first interview. They want to screen you out. The best answer I’ve heard to this question is, ‘I’m looking for a salary that’s in agreement with my skills and experiences.’ Boom. Their move. Now you can see if they will be fair. If they persist with their question, as one company did with me… Read more »
Compensation function within HR has outgrown to an Industry in itself that generates this type of misleading articles pushing people into unethical ‘tricks’ for bargaining for more money. Such tips and tricks are known to guys sitting at the other end of table as well. What will happen is that such conversations will corrupt values at both ends and leaves a bad taste one way or other. Employees should be encouraged to look at the paying capacity of the company as well as demonstrate to employees that the company aim to build transparent systems rather than close door one-to-one negotiations… Read more »
Daryl Locklear
Thank you very much for this article, the tips, and the comments (including Tip 7). I do my work very, very well, but I can’t negotiate for the life of me. I have a friend Graham who is a superb negotiator. I suggested to him that he come in and negotiate my next salary package for me! I wonder if it’s possible to do this…. If you are a new hire, may I suggest some things to watch out for: 1. Know the area you live/work in. In very expensive Vancouver, salaries are generally 25% below market compared to the… Read more »

@scrabble if they were willing to fire you so easily perhaps you did your self a favor, find a place that really wants you at the salary you deserve.


I know that I feel the most confident, when I have another opportunity, and never bluff, when it comes to potentially resigning, if we cannot agree on a raise. I stay connected with my peers and stay in contact with previous employers, that would love to have me return, so that I know that I have another option.


Yes & it was successful!
And everyone who has not bn in salary negotiation,trust me..this research is profound!

Nance L. Schick
As a business owner and the one who makes the decisions about raises, I add “7. Know the required salary-to-revenue ratio. Most businesses need you to generate two to three times your annual salary to keep operating. Yet most employees fail to consider the cost of rent, payroll taxes, insurance benefits (disability, employers liability, general liability, health, malpractice, unemployment, workers compensation), utilities, transportation, equipment, maintenance, supplies, etc. when looking at an employer’s revenue. Be willing to have a conversation about what’s best for the business and its goals. Then, talk about how you are going to generate the revenue necessary… Read more »

I look forward to trying these tips in my upcoming bonus negotiation thank you.


After using all that tricks at the end of the meeting I got fired.

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