Almost one in five people will never negotiate their salary, while only two in five will. And yet, 70% of managers expect salary negotiations with prospective candidates and current employees.

Drill down further, and just 7% of women will negotiate their first salary compared to 57% of men. Those that bartered got an average 7% salary increase. So why is everyone missing out?

The biggest fear for people looking for a raise is fear. Luckily, we can help you conquer any fears.

Bargaining is a skill, and like all skills, practice makes perfect. Salary negotiations can come before accepting a job or for a current role. Still, whenever it arrives, you need to be prepared.

Here’s the best way to get yourself ready to negotiate your salary into a winning salary.

Do Your Research and Be Prepared

Groundwork is essential, be it the first interview for a job or negotiating pay for your current position.

Know your value: Research salaries in your field — ask peers, use online sites like Glassdoor and get fixed numbers. Research wages for men and women. Contact recruitment agencies and get a feel for salary ranges.

Make a list of what you bring to the table, from location to leadership, career goals, skills, qualifications, awards, experience and education.

Think about why you deserve a raise. Have you performed well, exceeded expectations, and taken on more responsibilities? Write a ‘brag sheet’ listing your achievements.

It takes two to negotiate, so spend some time thinking about the tough questions you may face. If it’s a new job, will meeting your salary requirements mean you will start immediately? Have you received other offers? What’s your current pay? (This question is outlawed in some countries).

You need to feel comfortable in what is a pressurized situation. Expecting the unexpected backed up by knowledge of your field’s salaries will give you an edge.

Reaching a Figure and Considering Options

Armed with stats, work out your industry’s salary range. Pick your desired salary, them make your top figure higher than your desired salary.

Give yourself wiggle room down to your lowest acceptable figure. If you go too low, keep in mind how your new negotiated salary will make you feel and if it’s affordable.

Research shows that precise rather than rounded figures work better in negotiations: e.g., people respond better to €46,750 than €46,000. Don’t give wage ranges, and be prepared for counteroffers and flexibility.

Would stock be acceptable instead of a raise? More holiday or flexi-time? A big project which could lead to promotion?

It’s critical to remember: 

  • Think and be positive
  • Be prepared to make the first offer
  • Accept you may need to walk away from negotiations
Preparing for the Big Day

It’s time to sharpen your skills and look for any competitive advantage you can. Thursdays and Fridays are good psychologically for negotiations; people are more open to compromise so they can clear their desks before the weekend.

Practice your negotiation skills with friends and family members in the days before an interview or salary negotiation. Figure out any weaknesses and work on them.

A helpful technique is to imagine you are bargaining on behalf of someone else rather than yourself. It can throw up fascinating new perspectives.

Be confident, walk tall with your head held high and smile on the day itself. Some people like a coffee beforehand to pep them up, but avoid stimulants if they make you talk overly or nervous.

Open the door confidently and own the room. It’s your time.

How To Act During Salary Negotiations

During negotiations, it’s crucial to:

  • Remain positive
  • Ask questions to understand the company’s position
  • Focus on the future and not the past
  • Take pauses to consider your position

With new jobs, it’s vital to ask questions about how the company can meet your aspirations and requirements.

If they ask about your current salary, which may not be legal in some countries, it’s best not to lie. Explain why you are applying and the conditions you seek. Talk about market values if your current salary is lower than that being advertised.

Vocalise your excitement about the post, the value you’ll bring, focusing on the future and not the past. Speak about appreciating the offer but compare it to what the market pays people with your experience and performance levels. Reveal your highest pay offer and work from there.

If counteroffers come, listen carefully, take pauses and use head nods and ‘hmms’ to buy some thinking time. In response, run through your priorities in order of importance and try some of your flexible conditions. Add in a performance-related bonus? More holidays?

Highlight the pros of employing you. Maybe you live nearby or have long-term plans and ideas to share? Don’t bring personal issues like credit card debt or schools runs into the equation, and don’t threaten to walk out or look for a new job.

Still not making progress? Ask open-ended questions, like “How can I get you moving in my direction?”

Closing and Ending the Negotiating

Hopefully, your research-backed negotiating meant you and your employer reached a mutually-agreeable figure. Great work.

If not, ask your interviewer what they think is a reasonable wage and take your cue from there. Sometimes, new jobs can’t meet salary expectations. Review the market and keep looking for new opportunities.

People negotiating a current position should leave the meeting on a positive note no matter the result; you’ll most likely be working there for some time yet. Take everything you have learned from the experience, apply yourself and prove why you deserve more. Perhaps look at opportunities elsewhere that are more appropriate to your value.

Negotiation is a complicated business, and a lot comes down to personality, tactics, company scripts and budgets, and even how people feel on the day.

There’s a lot to take on board, but practice makes perfect. Once you crack it, you’ll start getting paid your actual value. Congratulations, you’ve just acquired a rewarding new skill.