Three top salary negotiation tips

My recruiting career has spanned 40 years. Now I am pulling the curtain back for anyone looking for a successful career move. Let’s discuss salary negotiation.

Do not discuss salary before the interview

There is only one good effect of discussing salary before your interview — and two bad effects. The only good impact is finishing your interview — and the manager says, “Wow, you are looking for $112,000. That is exactly what we want to pay.” So in real life, do you feel this ever happens? In my experience, never.

There are potentially two bad effects — and I have seen both occur. One potential effect is to ask more than the company is willing to pay. They may not tell you that is the reason you lost the offer. They may say that they found another candidate.

The second effect is you may ask for too little compensation. Far too many candidates leave money on the table. Would you like to be one of them? Probably not. But the company is thankful you helped their budget. Keep in mind that a 5% annual raise on $100,000 is less than a 5% raise on $120,000 means you may never make up that difference.

It is the company’s responsibility to determinate compensation

You do not know the earnings of your future teammates — nor should you. Therefore, the company is holding all the cards. You only have darts — and your darts can hit far off the mark. Therefore, do not give the company a number for an offer.

Instead, tell them how excited you are to receive an offer from them, and how much you want to work for them. Then, tell the manager why you want to work for them. This evidence may make the difference between receiving an appropriate offer or just receiving an offer.

Always negotiate something

The company may extend an unbelievable offer that you are dying to accept on the spot. If the company is very interested in your employment, they may be willing to bend a little on their offer.

Where may you be able to add to your compensation?

  • You may always ask for an additional week or two of PTO/vacation, especially if you have 10 years or more experience.
  • If you will receive some relocation assistance, ask that the taxable portion is bumped up to cover taxes.
  • Sign on bonuses may help you become whole if the company may not be able to make your last level of compensation.

If you have not shared your current/last salary before your offer, the company chose the compensation where you fit in their structure. You may like the potential growth in this new company. Therefore, confidently ask if the company has any flexibility in their offer. If they ask, “Why do you ask?” Slide your foot in the door. Tell them that you are aware they did not know your previous compensation. Tell them that their offer is $XX less than your last compensation. However, you really want to work for them. “Do you feel you may be able to add a sign on bonus to make me whole?”

If they tell you this is their final offer, you have a decision to make.

Bill Humbert with Provocative Thinking Consulting, Inc. is a speaker, talent attraction consultant, career transition consultant and offers training contracts at