How to Bargain for the Best Possible Salary




In almost every instance, you want the best possible salary when starting a new job, and your employer wants to keep your compensation as low as possible. So, how do you achieve what you are really worth?


In reality, salary negations often begin and end in the initial phone screening interview, when you have the least leverage and the employer has the most and you are asked, "What are your salary expectations?"

When candidates give an honest answer, it allows an employer to "shop" based on price rather than the value various candidates actually can provide, and it pressures you to give a lower number than you might press for later on in the process.


Up until recently, a common rejoinder has been to finesse the question by offering up your current or most recent compensation package and saying that this is a guideline but that your expectations would be somewhat different depending on differences in one job to the next.


Yet, this tactic is often seen to be disadvantageous to those who are the most underpaid relative to their real value, as it tends to perpetuate that state of affairs from one job to another. Accordingly, a number of states have recently enacted legislation prohibiting employers from asking about current or former salary information.


You might do best to press for the range the employer is willing to pay, and failing to get the interviewer to reveal it, you could suggest that you understand that the overall range employers are paying for a position is X to Y. Stress that this is what the research is showing, and not your own particular range.


You should do your utmost to defer providing any specific number, or even a range of what is acceptable to you until much later in the process.


Be Well-Armed With Information. You'll likely never really know precisely what your competition is asking for, but today's job seekers can easily obtain market information about what various jobs pay.


Ask Questions Rather Than Making Demands. Pounding your fist on the table and making demands isn't a great way to start a productive relationship with a new employer! It can be far more effective to bargain by asking questions and seeking information.


For example, if your research indicates that an employer's offer is only in the middle of the range, you might ask:


"I know you've had the opportunity to interview several candidates for this position, and I'm very happy to know that you think that of them all, I'll be the best fit. Could you explain how you came to offer me X rather than some other number for a salary?"


Without accepting, rejecting or demanding anything, you've given the employer the opportunity to share and defend their thinking, and it's quite possible they may have a good basis for that particular offer. At the same time, you will then have an opening to share your research and show them why you think their offer is lower than what one would reasonably expect.


Bargain for Fairness Rather Than for a Specific Salary. You'll not likely be able to get the precise information for what a particular company is likely to pay someone for doing a specific job. But that shouldn't prevent you from being able to drive a solid bargain.


If the offer is at the midpoint or below what others receive for the same level and kind of work in your geographic area, you have solid reason to bargain based on fairness.


You might say something like: "I assume that you think I'm more qualified than just the average project manager (or whatever your role will be). But the research I've conducted suggests that your offer would only be close to average for this position in this area. Might you consider revising your offer to reflect the greater value that I can provide to your company compared to my peers?"


You'll have the maximum leverage to bargain for a great salary after all the other candidates have been eliminated, and the employer has fallen in love with what they think you can bring to the company. And they will be hard-pressed not to accede to an argument based on fairness and research.


Happy hunting!