Tactical Tips for Your Salary Negotiation

An overview of what works tactically and what doesn't.

Tactics Are Half the Battle

  • Never go over your superior's head. The wage discussion is with him or her. If this person does not have the authority to negotiate your salary, involve him or her anyway.
  • Give a single number as a salary expectation, not a range. If you give a range, the boss will use the lower figure as a guide.
  • Give a non-round number, for example 8456 francs instead of 8500 francs. This signals that you are aware of exactly what your performance is worth.
  • Make an opening offer that is significantly higher than what you want to achieve. This sets the mark and gives you room to negotiate.
  • Never accept the first counter-offer, you will lose your negotiating space.
  • Of your 3 main arguments, first name the second strongest, then the weakest and finally the strongest. Then the boss has the strongest argument in mind and negotiates on it.
  • Show that you are prepared to work harder for more pay.
  • Be sensitive to the personality of your supervisor. He or she may be different from you.
  • Anticipate possible counter-arguments of your counterpart and put them into perspective. However, do not overdo this tactic.
  • Be tough on the issue, but friendly in your tone. Be confident and firm.
  • If you don't get a salary increase, offer alternatives that you have thought about in advance.

Use these Psychological Tricks

  • Don't talk about a salary increase, talk about a salary adjustment. This sounds more like a correction than a demand.
  • Make your boss feel positive before you bring up the subject of a salary negotiation. For example, ask for a favor in relation to one of your projects.
  • Make rhetorical pauses and ask questions. This way you underline your determination and lead the conversation yourself.
  • Harmonize your body language with that of your counterpart. This will help you gain confidence.

Avoid these Mistakes

  • Don't go into the conversation unprepared.
  • Don't let the conversation escalate - stay objective, don't get emotional.
  • Don't threaten consequences, such as dismissal, if you don't get more pay. Unless you are prepared to carry out the threat.

Don't be Discouraged by Failure

If you didn't get anywhere in the pay talk, just keep at it. Explain why you are unhappy with the outcome and ask for another meeting in the near future.

Try to find out why the negotiation failed and prepare for the second round. If this does not lead to success either, the signs may point to departure: start looking for a new job.


Hansjörg Schmid

Hansjörg Schmid

More on salary rise