How to Negotiate Salary with a Potential or Existing Employer

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Joining a new company can be a challenging time. Do you accept the first compensation offer or counter to see if there is room for improvement? Last week I wrote about employers having some leverage, but not all, in a salary negotiation.

Do you know how to use your leverage in a salary negotiation? Ideally, you have prepared for the negotiation with a list of quantifiable value that you bring to the position. A list of past accomplishments, along with any additional experience you bring to the team, will help you own your value and contribution.

When preparing to negotiate your worth, plan to set aside some time for quiet reflection. You need to do the inner work necessary to clarify your vision of what you want. For example, why you want a raise? Having clarity is essential to identify what a successful outcome looks like ahead of time. Why do you want a higher salary? Don’t stop your inquiry at “I want more money.” Why do you want more money? For example, “I have kids and I want to be able to pay for them to go to college.” Why do you want to pay for their tuition? “I never had the opportunity to go to college and I want to be able to provide that for them.”

There it is. That’s your purpose, that’s what you’re negotiating for: to send your kids to college and to provide them an opportunity that you never had. You can see how much different that answer is than “I want to make more money,” and now you’ve positioned yourself in a way that your supervisor can connect to; depending upon your supervisor, now the negotiation may not be adversarial but collaborative instead. It will also open up other options that will allow you to achieve your underlying purpose that you may not have thought of had you focused only on making more money. For instance, in the example above, maybe your employer has a college scholarship fund that is outside your department’s budget. Instead of getting a larger raise, you get access to scholarship money or, maybe, your boss has influence over scholarship or grant funds outside the company.

Now that you have a salary number, make sure you have done the same work as to other elements of your compensation package. Maybe you can negotiate more PTO in exchange for less of a raise. Could you negotiate a four-day work week to give you more time to work on a side project, and supplement your income that way? You need to know what other options could be on the table, and which of them you are willing to accept.

Develop your negotiating skills even further by following the steps I detail in my book Authentic Negotiating: Clarity, Detachment & Equilibrium – The Three Key to True Negotiating Success & How to Achieve Them and go to to take a 5-minute Authentic Negotiating Success Quiz to see where you stand and get immediate feedback.

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 35 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.

If you want to find out how deal-ready you are, take the Deal- Ready Assessment today!

Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, deal-maker, and business consultant with more than 35 years of professional negotiating experience as a successful entrepreneur and attorney.


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