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Salary Negotiation Simplified

Like any financial negotiation – whether you’ve debated with your kids or spouse about allowances, bought or sold things on craigslist, or purchased a new or used car – the process begins with the first number. In many cases, beginning with the first number will shut you out of the process for “being too high”. I recommend allowing the company to bring the first number to the table to start the salary negotiating process, because companies can’t make an offer without offering a salary. There are a variety of ways you will be “tricked” into stating a number first. If you can stand your ground and not fall into the salary trap, you could win out higher than you initially expected.

Let’s state these specific examples in salary negotiation:

What salary range are you looking for?

Be careful! Recruiters and human resource professionals are taught to cut out those with unrealistic pay expectations and to find the cheapest, yet most experienced candidate. I recommend by asking to discuss the job requirements and expectations (whether they are fiscal goals, product development goals, management goals, and so forth) before determining an exact number.

“Why don’t we discuss the specific job requirements and expectations before we determine that answer?”

How much did you make at your last job? This, to me, is an absurd question and should be avoided at all costs. Hopefully, the job you’re seeking is more advanced in the demands and goals rather than just a replacement of the former position you had. Emphasize that point and earn respect along the way.

“My former job is not exactly the same as the job we are discussing today. Why don’t we discuss the your required responsibilities and then determine a fair salary for this job?”

What are you expecting to make in terms of salary? This is where you can shine. Place importance of the job and the environment, positioning pay as an additional, yet secondary concern. Display respect for yourself and communicate that you want to respect the company, too.

“My top priority is to find a company and a job that is right for me. I have no doubt that your proposed salary is in keeping with the rest of the industry.”

I need to know what salary you want in order to make you an offer. Can you tell me a range? This is a time to be bold and ask a very direct question. Don’t be scared to take the leap!

“I would definitely appreciate it if you made me an offer based on the amount you have budgeted for this position. Knowing that information, I know we can move forward from there.”

Making this statement shows that you understand they have a budget to maintain and that you’re willing to work within it.

Why don’t you want to give your salary requirements? Don’t hesitate and hold your ground! This is just another attempt to squeeze “the number” out of you. Turn the question around.

“I have a strong feeling that you know what this position is worth to your company’s future. Knowing what this position is worth is vital information for me to know.”

These series of questions and answers have developed a clear pattern stemming from ONE objective: to get that “magic” number from you! Know full well the intention of these types of questions and you will be able to answer them better. Being bold enough to negotiate like a champion demonstrates that you are not only willing to stand up for yourself, but will do so for the company with whom you are negotiating. Don’t be afraid. Odds are, you will win respect for knowing the strategy of the game.

Make the most – literally! – of your career.


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

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