Interview Negotiations

4 tips that help you negotiate higher salary

Salary negotiation is something that repeats throughout your career and it’s also something that makes most people scared. The easiest time to get more money is of course before you’ve been hired. While you negotiate salary during interview. But sometimes you don’t want to leave your company just to get more. You want to negotiate with your current employer because you believe you deserve a higher salary.

Negotiation skills are crucial in your life no matter what position you have. They can help you increase your earning potential but also job enthusiasm. When employees sense their salary is lower than the market average, they will feel unsatisfied, tired and want to leave the job. That’s not just my opinon but the result of a study [1] performed by Hung-Wen Lee, Mei-Chun Lee.

It’s your duty to ask for more. That’s why in this article I’d like to acquaint you with my experience on this subject and show you the best practices that can help you negotiate your salary.

#1 Be the first

Be the one who suggests his number first because the first number put on the table is the most important negotiation attribute – an anchor number. The rest of the negotiation is based on its value. You, not your counterpart, should be the first person to mention the number, that way you can control the anchor.

If you have sufficient information about the other party’s readiness to pay, be the first to propose the number in order to avoid being anchored. Evidence presented by Todd J. Thorsteinson [2] proves that when the initial number is high, the final negotiated amount is usually higher as well. Another one of his studies also proved that even extremely high anchor numbers led to higher salaries.

Anchoring is a powerful tool which can be used against you when you lack the knowledge and negotiation skills. That’s why it’s often used by managers who proceed first and tell you their number first.

anchor number in negotiations

Chances that after hearing 5% you will ask for a 150% increase are low. According to some studies [3] people in general propose amounts that are close to the offered number. And that effect happens during face-to-face negotiations as well as in e-mail exchanges. You cannot run away from that!

#2 Be prepared for resistance

Another example of mistakes in this area is starting negotiations without any preparation while considering only a positive outcome. People assume that their manager will be eager to listen to them and will gladly give them what they ask for.

resistance in negotiations

Are you good at your work? That’s great! But that’s actually why you got the job, not why you get a salary bump later on. There is nothing exceptional about “being good at work” because most of the employees must be good at what they do.

This in fact sounds like the first counter-argument for your manager during negotiations. Remember that poor arguments equal easy counter-arguments for the other party. Don’t allow yourself to be put in a weak and uncomfortable position.

#3 Prepare strong arguments

Be more realistic instead. Expect to hear both answers “yes” and “no”. Assume there will be some kind of resistance from your counterpart. That may happen even if you’re the best person on a team. That’s why before any negotiations you need to ask yourself this really important yet simple question:

Why should someone give you a salary increase, a promotion, a bonus or anything else?

If you don’t know the answer or your answers are vague, you shouldn’t start any negotiations. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes in order to understand his way of thinking. You need to prepare a list of strong arguments – a brag sheet that proves you deserve gratification. They need to prove that not only did you deliver the value to the company but that you also did something exceptional, something that makes you stand out from the crowd.

“I’ve managed to deliver project A with success, but also [use brag sheet list]”

Prepare meaningful arguments. The more you do besides your normal chores, the stronger positions you have. Without having solid brag sheet your negotiations can end up pretty quickly with the poor result for you.

#4 Build a Decision Tree

I also suggest a more advanced technique that will help you prepare for the toughest negotiations. You can predict what answers you may hear and create a decision tree or use mind mapping. These methods are powerful because this way you can see both sides: yours and your manager’s. It also allows you to think of all the possible outcomes. Additionally, I use that method for the purpose of visualization. It opens my mind to all possible paths which I normally wouldn’t be able to see.

negotiation decision tree

Be like a surgeon or a pilot. They always have a set of prepared procedures and algorithms of how to react in hazard situations. And when something unexpected happens they know how to react in a calm way. That can save a life and it also applies to negotiations. Having plan for the negotiations can make you feel confident.

Information is king

You have plenty of time to prepare yourself for negotiations in advance. You won’t have it during the actual negotiation meeting. The more time you spend on preparation beforehand, the more professional your negotiations will be.

This simple rule is often skipped. So keep in mind that negotiation is about information asymmetry and confidence. If you want to be successful in negotiations, prepare more data than the other person. Before you start any discussion about your salary increase analyze local job market. Do the research. How much people earn in the similar position? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are you going to do if you hear “no”? And the most important one – what exceptional work did you do?


[1] Lee, & Lin,. (2014). A study of salary satisfaction and job enthusiasm – mediating effects of psychological contract. Applied Financial Economics. 24. 10.1080/09603107.2013.829197.

[2] Thorsteinson, Todd. (2011). Initiating Salary Discussions With an Extreme Request: Anchoring Effects on Initial Salary Offers1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 41. 1774 – 1792. 10.1111/j.1559-1816.2011.00779.x.

[3] Galinsky, Adam & Mussweiler, Thomas. (2001). First Offers As Anchors: The Role of Perspective-Taking and Negotiator Focus. Journal of personality and social psychology. 81. 657-69. 10.1037/0022-3514.81.4.657.