Salary Negotiation Strategies

Recruiter Reveals 7 Salary Negotiation Strategies


The way you present your requests during salary negotiations has a dramatic impact on whether you get what you want from an employer. Be firm, but flexible, self-confident, but not arrogant or demanding, and sell your skills and knowledge in a way that appeals to the employer’s concern about the bottom line.

Salary Negotiation Strategies

Let me give you a few salary negotiation strategies to help you get your biggest paycheck yet…

1. Be Enthusiastic, Polite, And Professional

Let the employer know by your tone of voice and your demeanor that your goal is a win-win solution. If you are too pushy or adopt a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude, the employer may get the impression that you’re not that interested in the job and withdraw the offer.

2. Start High And Work Toward A Middle Ground

Ask for a little more than you think the employer wants to pay and then negotiate a middle ground between the employer’s first offer and your counter-proposal.

3. Be Creative

Look beyond base salary for ways to boost your income. For example:

  • Holiday days. If new employees must work for 6 to 12 months before receiving paid holidays, ask that this restriction be waived.
  • Early salary review.
  • Bonuses. In addition to requesting a sign-on bonus, you may be able to negotiate a performance bonus. 

4. Continue Selling Yourself

As you negotiate, remind the employer how the company will benefit from your services. Let’s say, for example, that the employer balks at giving you $8,000 more in compensation. Explain how you will recoup that amount and more for the company. For instance:

“I realize you have a budget to worry about. However, remember that with the desktop publishing skills I bring to the position, you won’t have to hire outside vendors to produce our monthly customer newsletter and other publications. That alone should produce far more than $8,000 in savings a year.”

In other words, justify every additional money or benefit you request. Remember to do so by focusing on the employer’s needs, not yours.

5. Ask A Fair Price

Be sure that your requests are reasonable and in line with the current marketplace.

If the salary offer is below market value, gently suggest that it’s in the company’s best interest to pay the going rate:

“The research that I’ve done indicates that the going rate for a position such as this is $5,000 higher than this offer. Although I’d really like to work for you, I can’t justify doing so for less than market value. I think if you reevaluate the position and consider its importance to your bottom line, you’ll agree that it’s worth paying market price to get someone who can really make an impact.”

6. Be A Confident Negotiator

Remember to use the confident body language and speech patterns. When you make a salary request, don’t go on and on, stating over the over again why it’s justified. Make your request and offer a short, simple explanation of why that amount is appropriate.

7. Let The Employer Win, Too

It’s a smart negotiating strategy to ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly. Then you can ‘give in’ and agree to take the job without those added benefits it the employer meets all of your other requests.

Ideally, both parties in a negotiation should come away from the table feeling that they’ve won. This is especially true when you’re dealing with salary negotiations. You want employers to have good feelings about the price paid for your services so that your working relationship begins on a positive note.

Your Next Step

For more tips on salary negotiation and to find out how the salary game is played in today’s market, you can download my FREE “You’re HIRED!” video course via the button below. You’ll also learn how recruiters read resumes, why you are not getting hired and how to sell yourself successfully in a job interview.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Margaret Buj

Margaret Buj is an Interview Coach who helps smart professionals around the world get hired, promoted, and paid more.


  1. I am currently in a situation where the first interaction with the HR recruiter in a screening interview asked both what my current salary was and what was my salary expectation. I said I was not yet ready to say what my salary expectation was. She continued to ask about my current salary, so I told that because I thought it would look evasive not to. Then I asked what was the salary range for the position and she said they don’t disclose that. This doesn’t seem quite right to me. She said there is a range and they should be able to meet my needs based on my current salary. I did make a comment that I was looking to improve on my current salary and she seemed positive, but said they use my current salary as a reference point. Well, I feel like I lost leverage by revealing my current pay. What do you do in this situation? I am continuing with second round interviews and feel like I may get an offer. I am afraid that they won’t offer what I am expecting and maybe I should have set expectations sooner.

    • Nick from CAREEREALISM

      Thanks for sharing your story JD. Once the company makes an offer, you can still negotiate. If they give you a range as they mentioned they might, then you probably can’t earn much more than what they say, but you can always try to earn more through bonuses or non-monetary compensation. Salary isn’t the only thing worth trying to get more of. You might be able to land more sick or vacation time, the ability to work remotely part-time or a flexible schedule (hours-wise).

  2. I’ve completed a few rounds of interviews, and am hoping to hear an offer soon from a prospective employer. As I prepare for salary negotiation, I have a question about existing equity compensation. I hold several RSU’s (restricted stock) at my existing employer. Is it acceptable for me to negotiate with a prospective employer to consider this in their compensation offer? To date, we’ve really just discussed current base salary and cash bonus. Can I / should I bring the RSU topic up now or wait for an offer…or is it just too late in all? Thanks for any guidance!

  3. This might be cheating… but the easiest way I know of to negotiate salary is to hire someone else to do it for you. As a professional salary negotiator, I have helped over 700 people negotiate higher salaries. One of the tricks I advocate is to always conduct your salary negotiation over email. Negotiating salary over email helps level the playing field because it takes away the opportunity for your employer to “read you” in person and potentially call your bluff. Over email you have a better opportunity to carefully choose every word. You can even hire a professional like me to help you get it right and your boss will never know you had outside help. If you want to learn more about how to negotiate salary the smart way over email you can visit my blog at

  4. I recently passed the 2nd round of interviews received the job offer and it was less than what they said the range was. So I countered in writing and instead of a negotiation I was told that they would move on. I am dissappointed and really need this job so I sent another offer letting them know I was still interested in the position and didn’t want to lose the opportunity….no response. Everything I have read on LinkedIn and other sites state that negotiations are expected and respected but not in this case now I’m gun shy.

    • Hi, sorry to hear about your negative experience with this company. They don’t sound very professional – if they really wanted to hire you, they should have at least explained why they can’t pay more. Hope you’ve had more positive experiences since then!

      Kind regards
      Margaret Buj
      Interview Coach

  5. After 3 rounds of interview, The HR of a this Big company called and told me I know you initlaly said 160k, but we can only pay 120k. I want to know a number that you will accept incase we make you an offer. (How bizzare is that to start with?) I tried avoiding answering but she wldnt give up .. so i ended up telling her could you do 135 and she said, I will have to check.
    I am most annoyed right now, coz the going rate for my position with my experience paid by other companies is 160. (also for some reason my current company which is a much smaller company is paying much much lesser n i did tell them please dont judge me by my current salary as my current co. is a start up), however.. now I am sitting and waiting for that offer to come. and I am also worried how will i negotiate further if they do come back with a 125 or 130 number? please please help.

    • Hi there, I only saw your message now… what did you decide to do? If people with your skills are paid 160,000, if you accept 130k, it’s going to take you years to get back to earning 160k. Unless you are in a position that you have to take a job asap, I’d probably wait for the right opportunity.

      Kind regards
      Margaret Buj
      Interview Coach

  6. I have to agree and agree with the comments above.

    From what I have seen in the IT industry is a huge shift in seeking someone who is way over skilled, but perhaps under qualified.

    For example, seeking skill sets across IT disciplines of Administration, Programming, Design, and Analysis. Another words, someone with 3 years behind a terminal monitoring MIS. While, also having account management or help desk experience and not to mention staying up to date with hardware and software trouble shooting.

    Not sure if that is an HR issue but frankly if you find that skill set combination with years of active professional programming that person hasn’t slept since 2005.

    Good luck dealing with the burn out factor. The alternative to the above is when they insource someone with the bare minimum of those skill sets and pay them half the value of a qualified individual.

    • Hi Clinton, while there are companies who would prefer to pay bare minimum just to get someone with half the skills needed, my experience of recruiting for global US companies was that we are prepared to pay more for the right person (obviously within the allocated salary ranges).

      But I do agree employers are looking for a v. close fit to their requirements and these requirements are often unrealistic. I often have to educate my Hiring Managers about it.

      Thanks for commenting:-)

      kind regards

      Margaret Buj

  7. Perhaps in a low-unemployment scenario these tactics might work, but these days when I have tried any of these strategies, employers basically said ‘NEXT’! Today they are quite patient and willing to keep looking until they found the person willing to take the job as-is. I even had one employer change the job description so they could hire someone less qualified but who would take a position given the wage they were offering. I’d like to know where the employer open to these suggestions works!

    • Catherine, I’m not sure if I understand your comment correctly. Are you saying companies are taking away job offers to you because you attempted to negotiate? If so you have been extremely unlucky. That is a rare occurrence. The other option is that you are negotiating before you have the job offer. As your experience shows no good can ever come from that. Hold off on asking about salary or responding to questions about desired salary until you get the job and your experience should change.

      • I understood the comment as well as the others on this post considering they are reporting similar findings to my own. The fact of the matter is things are really getting ugly for those of us in the trenches. Employers are absolutely forcing our hands in terms of salary negotiations WELL before they’ve offered a job. I’ve had people actually hire me and then I get a ‘surprise’ paycheck in the mail. Needless to say, I concluded business with that employer promptly. And yes, I agree, I have been extremely unlucky, but apparently so have many others on this discussion! What was once rare is now a bonafide trend. What’s the lesson? It’s what most employers are thinking… do you want to work or not? One interviewer said to me, take the job you are offered, you may not get another one. I’ll add, you need to be prepared to take a significant cut in pay as well. I’d love to be wrong, but this is the sum total of my experiences over the past 14 months.

        • Catherine, I am hearing you. I have experience in hospitality for 7 years (which is since the legal age I was able to start paid employment). I’ve changed courses have still tried to get hospitality work. nothing. for 3-4 months.
          I put out a few babysitting fliers in my neighbourhood that took me 5 minutes to print up using an online template, a 10 minute walk and also put some time and effort into Find A Babysitter website. I can’t field the calls/texts/interviews fast enough. The next time I apply for a hospo job I’m dropping my resume in and selling myself. Employers these days are shifty towards young people.

          • Interesting that you see a mistrust of young people – I have found employers prefer younger applicants (college plus some experience) over the experienced folk mainly because within marketing and communications, they have the cheap skills (latest training and technology) employers need. I’m sure what employers saw in you was a go-getter spirit who wasn’t afraid to take chances! Way to go! Likewise, I also notice that when people see me in action, they are impressed (or so they say) and this has been my challenge – not enough of the hiring folk know me. So, I’m trying some creative things to get out into the community in a legitimate sense working as a consultant and I’m meeting with business owners and stakeholders.

            I have also considered babysitting ; believe it or not, they are among the best paying jobs around here!

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