How To Get the Salary You Want:
Twelve Negotiation Tactics That Work

by Ed Brodow

Ed Brodow, Business Negotiation Expert

Many of us dislike negotiating because we are afraid of being taken advantage of, especially when we believe that we are in a weak position. Salary negotiations provide a classic example. Has the fear of rejection – of losing the job or antagonizing your boss – kept you from putting your best foot forward in negotiating your livelihood? Here is a 12-step process for negotiating your salary without fear.

1. Study the situation. Before negotiating your salary or asking for a raise, do research. What is the organization's policy on salaries? Have they established a range for your position? What are other people in comparable positions inside the organization being paid? What do other companies pay for this position? How important are you to the organization? If others are being paid more, and you are a key employee, be assertive (See #5). If the policy is not to pay what you want, and you're replaceable – be prepared to walk (See #12).

2. Know what you want. This may sound simplistic, but in reality many people negotiate for a salary without having a clear idea of what they want. First of all, what is your goal, i.e., how much will you be satisfied with? Second, what is the most you think the position will pay – the maximum? It may be more than your goal. If it is, you might begin by asking for more than you want (See #7). If the maximum is less than your goal, is it acceptable? What is the least you will accept – your bottom line? Once you establish your bottom line, be prepared to walk if you can't get it (See #12).

3. What is important to you besides money? Are you willing to accept more intangible rewards, e.g., vacation time, flexible hours, working from home, bigger title, more responsibility, stock options, pension plans, bigger office, etc. Don't forget to consider these items as part of the overall salary picture.

4. Make special time. Don't discuss your salary as an afterthought at the end of a meeting. ("Oh, by the way, there's something else I'd like to discuss with you.") Give this subject the attention it deserves. Arrange a special meeting that will focus on your salary. Get the boss to commit to a block of time.

5. Be assertive – ask for the order. Don't be afraid of losing the job. Ask for what you want. "I think I'm worth more than you are offering/than I'm being paid." If they don't agree, maybe you don't belong there. The result is always positive. Either you get paid what you think you're worth, or you discover that this isn't the right organization for you and maybe you ought to look for a better job.

6. Get the employer to make the first offer. If you're interviewing for the job, ask, "How much does this position pay?" If you're negotiating for a raise, ask, "How much of a raise can you approve?" They may surprise you by offering more than you expect. If they offer less, or they insist that you name a figure, ask for more than you want (See #7).

7. Open with an extreme position. Ask for more than you are willing to accept – you can always settle for less. If you open the negotiation with your goal – what you'll be satisfied with – the employer may interpret this as your opening move and they will offer you less. When you ask for more than you want, (a) you may get it, or (b) you can eventually settle closer to your goal. If they say, "The salary range for this position is x to y," you can (a) go for the high end of the range, or (b) challenge the range by explaining how you are an exception.

8. Approach it from the employer's perspective. What is your value to the employer? Don't say, "I have nine kids and a big mortgage, so can I have a raise?" You're not being compensated based upon your need. Phrase it from the employer's point-of-view. What's at stake for them – how do you impact their bottom line?

9. Get the employer to affirm your worth. As part of establishing your value to the organization, it's important to receive your employer's validation that they need you. Once you obtain this affirmation, their resistance is lowered.

10. Ask open-ended questions. As in any interview situation, be pro-active. Be the interviewer, not the interviewee. You can accomplish this by asking open-ended questions, i.e., questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no. Open-ended questions require lengthy answers. Ask your question and shut up.

11. Let the employer do most of the talking. Follow the 70/30 Rule: Listen 70% of the time and speak only 30% of the time. The less you talk, the more information you'll get, and the better they will feel about you. We all like people who listen to us. Let the employer talk themselves into giving you what you want.

12. Be prepared to walk if necessary. I call this Brodow's Law – always be willing to walk away from a negotiation if you can't get what you want. Another way of putting it is, never negotiate without options. In a salary negotiation, your willingness to walk away gives you tremendous power. The employer will sense it. Conversely, if you are desperate for the job and perceive that you have no alternatives, they will sense your desperation. Face it, the worst thing that can happen is, you'll have to look for another job – a BETTER job. They can't shoot you! If you know what you want and stick to it, you will win no matter what happens.

Ed Brodow is a keynote speaker and negotiation guru on PBS, ABC News, Fox News, and Inside Edition. He is the author of Negotiation Boot Camp: How to Resolve Conflict, Satisfy Customers, and Make Better Deals. For more information on his keynotes and seminars, call 831-372-7270 or e-mail, and visit

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