June 23, 2018

Jobseekers: Sign In | Sign Up Recruiters

Career Advice

Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

Salary Negotiation Dos And Don'ts

Never forget this fact: Whoever mentions money first loses! Don't let it be you.

John hadn't realized exactly how underpaid he was until he decided to pursue a terrific sounding job and he didn't get it. The recruiter later shared with John that the recruiter believed he was qualified, but the hiring manager thought differently when John revealed his current salary and it seemed too low for the duties he claimed he'd done. For that reason, he'd been eliminated. John wanted a better outcome so he became a career counseling client, when a dream job popped up. The very first thing he learned was exactly WHAT his salary should be for performing his job. Next, we role-played how to answer all the possible salary questions he would get in the interview. Finally, I assisted him with specific negotiating strategies and tactics that resulted in an additional $11,000 being added to the original offer, along with a $5,000 signing bonus upon acceptance, which equaled $16,000 in additional compensation because of successful salary negotiations.

Some key rules to follow:

DON'T tell them how much you have made before. You lose your negotiating power immediately if you do, and many candidates have LOST the job because early in the interview they did tell the hiring manager their actual salary. In fact, one executive learned from a recruiter that she lost the job when she told the hiring manager her current salary because she was being underpaid for her skill level and experience. The hiring manager immediately devalued her skills, rating them at a lower level and equating them to the dollars she was earning.

DO use a more effective strategy to masterfully dodge the salary discussion early. If you are asked in an interview, "What salary do you currently make?" or "What is the salary you expect to be paid?" simply volley their question back with one of your own. Reply with, "What is the salary range for this job?" This puts the employer in the position of revealing the range they consider appropriate for the job. The salary range may well be higher than you might think.

DON'T send in a salary history. Simply ignore their request for this information. But, if the ad insists, stating, "We won't consider anyone who doesn't send a salary history." you can comply in a clever way that preserves your negotiating power. Instead of revealing your old salary, research salary survey sources (available at ) and find a comparable job description to the one you are applying for. Quote them a salary range from that source and indicate that you are looking within that range. Employers report that they use the salary question as a device to screen out applicants. While you worry the employer won't pay high enough, in reality often times employers eliminate you because your salary was too low, thus automatically downgrading your skills.

DON'T lie or exaggerate your past salary. Always leave the salary boxes blank on job applications. The application is a legal document and can result in your being fired if you "fudge" on the true number.

DO wait until the job offer is on the table before you discuss money and benefits. It is after the employer has screened candidates and decided you are the one for the job, that you have the most power to suggest they offer more -- money, vacation, perks -- and get it!

DO ask the interviewer for a formal letter of agreement. The letter should outline what you have agreed upon during the final negotiation phase so there are no misunderstandings. This will insure that you end up with the promised salary, benefits and perks.

DO TRY. In the last 18 months I have seen employers offer higher salaries and more lucrative benefits packages, simply because the prospective employee quantified their worth and asked for more. This strategy often results in acquiring thousands of dollars more in your paycheck.

-Robin Ryan

America's most popular career counselor, Robin Ryan, is the author of four bestselling books: 60 Seconds & You're Hired!, Winning Resume & Winning Cover Letters, and What to Do with the Rest of Your Life. She's appeared on over a thousand TV & radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Phil, and has been published in most major newspapers and magazines including USA Today & the Wall Street journal. Contact her at 425.226.0414; email:

SOURCE: Audio "Salary Negotiation Strategies" by Robin Ryan.

Copyright 2006 Robin Ryan. All rights reserved.

Top of Page