How to Negotiate Your Salary Without Fear

“98% of employers under offer but only 3% of employees negotiate.”

This statement might sound far-fetched to you, but there is some truth in it, as HR practitioners agreed in a poll.

What makes negotiating your own pay package so much harder than negotiating a million-dollar business deal for your organisation? Because your pay is so much closer to your heart. If we say “yes” too readily, we might be underselling ourselves, with a lower pay package than we feel we deserve. And if we say “no”, we know we might never hear back from them again.

– Pam Vas, Executive Coach and Facilitator

Here are three steps that can help you whenever you find yourself in a salary negotiation.

  1. Wait for the “best time” before you negotiate
  2. Avoid falling into the screening trap
  3. Practise courtesy at all times

Wait for the “best time” to negotiate

The first thing you need to know as a jobseeker is that when it comes to salary negotiation, timing can make or break the deal for you.

American job-hunting guru, the late Dick Bolles illustrated this in his best-selling book “What Colour Is Your Parachute?”. According to him, the “Best Time” coincides with the time when the organisation feels that “they must have you”.

Source: What Colour is Your Parachute, illustration fromCool Tools

In other words, you need to be cognizant of your own bargaining power and wait until it peaks before attempting to enter into a negotiation.

Avoid “bad timing” pitfalls at all cost.

Avoid falling into the screening trap

We are all too familiar with how an innocuous conversation with a recruiter ends with the tricky salary questions that are hard to fend off.

“So can you share what your salary expectations are?”

Ah. Touchy topic! If you say “I’d rather not say”, you can forget about getting your job. If you reveal what you really want, you might also never hear back from them again (I’m sure we know this too well.) So exactly how do you respond in such a situation?

Simply dodge, delay or defer. Whatever you call it, the aim is simple: avoid falling for the trap. Here, we introduce a simple three-step Noel Smith-Wenkle salary negotiation method.

Obviously not everyone is comfortable using this method, and may just buckle at the moment. If handled badly, you may even end up annoying your recruiter and not get an interview.

So do tread with care. But one thing’s for sure: the more you practise, the better you will become.

Be courteous at all times

Some people would say that when it comes to salary negotiations, it is better to be clear and state your expectations. Just remember to always be courteous about it, because it will keep doors open for you.  

Here are some things you can do:

If you have failed in the past to negotiate a better package for yourself, perhaps this is a good time to consider engaging a professional who will be able to help you hone your negotiation skills with more practice. Find out more about Career Coaching here.


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Are you more confident to negotiate your next salary?