Salary negotiation can be tricky, but it IS possible to get the paycheck you want—just follow these tried-and-true tactics.

Salary negotiation is a tricky thing. Pushing to see what you can get is human nature, but an inexpert maneuver on your end could potentially sour your employment relationship before it’s even begun.

Here are four tried-and-true tactics to help you get closer to the salary you want—without touching any employer sore spots:

1. Keep it professional, not personal

Whether it’s right or wrong, for a lot of people, money is knitted to self-worth. If that’s the case for you, the first bullseye to aim for is learning to be professional and unemotional during negotiations. This is often easier said than done.

Without being brusque or cold, assess the offer from the company’s point of view as well as your own. Each conversation should end with you saying (or writing, if negotiating by email) thank you. Ask yourself: Have you kept things positive but also gotten quickly to the point?

For instance, to negotiate a salary of $42,000, a good response to hiring manager X at company ABC Corp. might look like this:

Hello X,

First let me say that joining ABC Corp. is an extremely exciting prospect for me. I believe I can produce for ABC and exceed expectations for this role. After reviewing the offer, most points reflect what I hoped to see.

One point I would like to discuss further is the offered base salary. Currently, I earn $38,000 and am ideally looking to progress to $45,000. If there is a time today when we can discuss this over the phone, I would be happy to work around your schedule.

2. To decide how high to go, weigh risk and reward

A key thing to remember about compensation negotiation is that it’s still very much part of the interview process, even though you have an offer before you begin. If you’re attempting to negotiate above 15 percent of your current salary, be careful not to come across as high-maintenance or entitled.

Even with the offer on the table, at the end of the day, the hiring company still has the final say. If you decide what you’re asking for is commensurate with the market rate and reflects your skills and history, proceed professionally and know going into the negotiations whether you’re willing to compromise.

3. Be brutally honest with yourself

Evaluate your own qualifications. Are you more than 50 percent sure you deserve more money? If you are less than 50 percent sure, err on the side of not pushing for a higher salary and instead prove yourself once in the job.

But if you do meet that 50 percent threshold, go for it. The fewer strong candidates a company has, the more likely they are to give the hiring manager leeway.

4. Depend on research, not guesswork (tweet this idea!)

Research what similar jobs at similar companies pay.

What doesn’t count as research? Asking your friends what they think someone in your job should be making. Much better is some intense Googling or researching on Glassdoor.

Salary negotiation might make you feel nervous, excited, indignant, entitled, unsure and ultra-focused. But a savvy professional—that’s you—is able to take a step back from any emotional response, assess the facts gathered from reliable sources and proceed in the professional manner you plan to carry the first day you walk through your new office doors.

Ken Sundheim is the CEO of KAS Placement Recruiters, an executive search firm specializing in sales and marketing recruitment. You can see Ken’s blog at


  1. Urgent Care

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  2. Razwana Wahid

    Great post Ken. It is definitely a good idea to see what the market is paying someone for a similar role and researching this before the negotiation helps strengthen your case.

    I would add that if the employer does not agree to the salary amount up front and you still want the job, it is a good idea to propose a 6 month period where you have tangible objectives to achieve, after which your salary is increased. This gives the employer time to assess your skills and performance, and you know there will be a bigger pot of money coming your way.

    – Razwana

  3. Paul M. Stein

    Very nice article. What should be noted by everyone is that what is being negotiated is what is either within a pay band range that is set by the Company for the particular position in a particular location or only a small difference beyond that (note the $45 vs. $42K example). The potential danger with online research, even with Glassdoor, is that what is in those sites is, most likely, very non-specific or not even applicable in relation to the specifics of the particular position at hand. One could see some outlandish ranges, and it would be highly inappropriate to insist on something like that.

  4. Eric Kramer

    Here is another good tip- The first question you should ask after being offered the job is “Why did you select me?” This will give you an idea of how valuable they consider you and if you have greater negotiating leverage. For this and more interview and negotiating tips see

  5. Tracy Harkins Ross

    Nice tips, but I would like to have seen more about negotiating other benefits if the salary is not flexible. If you are in a field where then number of qualified people looking for jobs vastly outnumbers the openings, then companies might try to take advantage. What about accepting the lower salary, but negotiating extra vacation or occasional work-from-home flexibility? What else can be negotiated?

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  8. David Larson


    My name is David Larson and I’m a professional salary
    negotiator. My colleagues and I at represent hundreds of people each year in their salary negotiations. We’ve had clients from all 50 states
    and dozens of countries around the world.

    91% of our clients get a higher salary, better benefits, or
    both. How do we do it? We always negotiate salary via email. That way, the
    employer never knows that our clients have hired a professional negotiator to
    help them. We write the salary negotiation emails for our clients, and our
    clients send them out from their own accounts.

    It’s just so much easier to get more money when you have a
    professional negotiator on your side.

    Good luck!


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    […] consensus: If an employer wants you, they’ll pay you. Negotiate for a higher paycheck rather than lying about your salary […]

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