8 Excellent Tips (and Scripts) for Negotiating Salary

Ashton & Associates Salary Negotiation Canada Whether you’re negotiating salary because you’re looking for that long overdue increase, or preparing for the final stages of a new job offer, having a few well-prepared techniques and scripts at hand is one of the most important tools to carry into the negotiation process.

Let me say this another way – when the topic of negotiating salary comes up, it’s critical that you have several dialogs ready for this pivotal stage of your interview process.

When you’re negotiating a salary increase …

  1. Give them permission to say no.
    Something that all great sales people do well is to give the other person permission to say no, letting them know that it’s important that they feel comfortable saying no (most people don’t). This will immediately set your boss or decision maker at ease, with the added bonus of making him or her more attentive to what you have to say. Now you’ve set the stage for openness and honesty.
  2. It’s just a conversation. 
    Turn inwards and get to that place where you are okay with the outcome – no. matter. what. Put away any and all expectations of the results of your negotiating salary to be anything more than a conversation. Turn that over to the gods of providence (or whomever you choose to believe in) and trust that those entities are a) always looking out for your best interests and b) will bring this salary negotiation to a positive outcome, if this is what is meant to be for you. Now you should start to feel more at ease (read non-emotional) too.
  3. Never assume. Anything.
    Ask lots of questions. Making others feel they were the expert was something actor Peter Falk’s Columbo character was a genius at. He always got surprisingly valuable information simply by acting as though he knew very little. Regardless of how much you do know, or how little you think they know about what you actually do for them, make them feel as if you are completely relying on their input and assistance. And it gives you the opportunity to be sure you are targeting your key strengths in areas that are of maximum value to them.

    Added bonus:
    This generally makes others feel more magnanimous in responding to you.
  4. Shut up and Listen.
    Nerves make all of us talk too much. If you’re talking more than 70% of the time, you’re talking too much. When you ask a question, shut up and listen, even if there is an uncomfortable period of time or they seem to be waiting you out. If your manager wanted a run down of all the wonderful things you do for them, they’d be asking you for it.
  5. Know all the players and get all the facts. 
    At the outset remind them that you are totally aware that your salary negotiation is a decision that should not be made lightly. Ask if there is anyone else they would like to confer with before making that decision, and if there is anything about your performance that they feel stands in the way of saying yes. If they do come up with something, be absolutely certain you don’t respond defensively. Instead ask them to explain and let them know if you don’t understand their reasoning. Don’t deny just ask them to explain what that means from their perspective and to the company.
  6. Never (ever) use an ultimatum or pursue a counter-offer. 
    Last but not least, whenever anyone is negotiating salary, accept whatever outcome with grace. The worst possible card to draw is an ultimatum. This will only result in the other party feeling squeezed or forced into a decision, something nobody wants to feel in any negotiation. Erase all thoughts of putting an ultimatum forward, and never, regardless of your motive in doing so, present another job offer as your reason for asking. This only displays disloyalty which, even though they may keep you on, and even though they may never come out and tell you this – it will be the very thing comes back to haunt you and your career with that employer.

Here are the two very good scripts for the actual money talk: 

You want to be sure that you memorize your answer to the question that every prospective employer will ask … “What salary are you looking for”?

1)  “I’m glad you brought that up. Money is certainly one part of why I’m here today, but what’s most important to me is this opportunity. If you feel there is a good fit for us to work together, I would love to entertain an attractive offer from you”.

2) “ ______. I am open to a fair and reasonable increase on this”.

Nobody likes to talk about money. Preparing and responding well to issues around your salary is always one of the most difficult aspects of an interview. It is well worth your time to role play this with friends and family a number of times before your interview. The more time you spend rehearsing your answer to questions around salary negotiation, the more you will come across as a clear and confident communicator.

Here are some Canadian Salary survey resources you may find useful in negotiating your next job or pay increase:

Wow Jobs Salary Survey
Monster’s Salary.com Survey
Canada Visa Salary Survey


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Barbara Ashton is the President and Founder of Ashton & Associates Recruiting.
Ashton & Associates Recruiting  … Helping you hire right. Every time.