The 13 Rules of Salary Negotiation

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The 13 Rules of Salary Negotia...
Learn how to negotiate your salary and get a fair salary in the 2024 job market.
Sep 16, 2022 9 min read

"I love to salary negotiations” said no one ever!

Research at HP shows men typically apply for job ads when they meet only 60% of the job description requirements? Yet, at the same time, most women dare to hit the “send" button until they fully meet 100% of the criteria.

Furthermore, Linda Babcock highlights yet another prominent gender difference in her book "Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation - and Positive Strategies for Change":

“Men are four times more likely to ask for higher pay than are women with the same qualifications."

Linda Babcock

You'll be surprised to read that "by neglecting to negotiate her starting salary for her first job, a woman may sacrifice over half a million dollars in earnings by the end of her career."

What price are you willing to pay to avoid the discomfort of salary negotiation? Not entirely using one's bargaining power to make the most of a job offer is more commonly known to be typically female than a male-attributed issue.

That's why we couldn't have started this blog post without raising awareness of the unbridged gender pay gap. With that in mind, we are aware that men are also susceptible to underselling themselves when it comes to salary negotiations – especially at the start of their career.

So yes, more factors are intertwined into getting paid what you deserve than just gender. We are going to lay out a complete strategy for your salary negotiation success.

This article is intended for all experts – regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.

Enhancv stands for professionals` socioeconomic empowerment and makes candidates bulletproof in the job search arena in numerous ways: professional career coaching, free resume builder, and last but not least – salary negotiation.

In this blog post, you will learn all the rules to follow in negotiating an attractive salary. So let's unpack your bundle of salary victory PRO tips. Grab your pen and paper!

Rule #1: Don’t Skip the Company and Industry Research

Find out your market value. However, suppose you are a top performer. In that case, the online industry salary statistics will not do you much service, as they typically show the average pay you can get.

How can you find relevant and truthful salary cross-check? This brings us to our next point.

Rule #2: Varied Personal Outreach Fuels Your Bargaining Power Like a Ferrari Engine

Don't be a desert island when it comes to ripping networking's benefits. HR experts advise that the best way to gain an insight on the salary you should aim for before you start negotiations is to expand your outreach to professionals from the field – both your acquaintances and those you don't know.

Speak also to employees of the organization you're looking forward to join. They will be flattered that you value their opinion on the company's culture. That way, you avoid being sidetracked by an unauthentic company review on Glassdoor by a competitor or poor-performing ex-employee.

In addition, since only 35% of women break the social conditioninge of not negotiating their salary, compared to 65% of men, experts encourage women to reach out to women in their field and both male and female executives. They serve as the best example of an assertive approach.

Rule #3: Position Yourself Correctly on the Salary-Meter Scale

Tie your desired number to your experiences and skills that make you a perfect fit. Rationalize every single dollar you demand. If you state a specific salary, be prepared to be asked to defend it by facing more than one challenging question.

At the same time, avoid anchoring an unreasonable number much above your current professional level. Your preliminary research comes in handy here, so you don't appear as someone who flies in the clouds.

Rule #4: What’s Your Reservation Price

And how low is a low-value offer that hits your indifference point? You should answer this question for yourself before the negotiation process. Show up with your homework done – part of it is figuring out what is your minimum acceptable number + 10%. If you start from a higher minimum number, you will appear more confident and give yourself leverage for a potential price drop.

pro tip icon
Pro tip

Beware of gross to net calculations, so you're not in for an unexpected unpleasant surprise. Always double-check with the Hiring manager if they refer to salary before or after tax. For example, in The Netherlands, it is common to mention gross compensation during the negotiation, which is little known amongst most ex-pats, at least the freshly relocated ones.

Rule #5: Get Clear on What’s a Deal Breaker for You

Salary negotiation involves recognizing issues that are important for you and the employer. Therefore, it is guaranteed to turn the salary negotiation into successful problem solving, beneficial for both sides.

It's, in any case, a lot easier for most people to get clear on their needs and interests. Yet, you would win the HR's heart if you show how you can overcome the most typical employer's objection as to why they "can't offer you the salary you request":

"We would love to offer you that amount, but unfortunately, we have budget constraints!"

Whether they keep refusing a salary increase or give you a low-value offer you never expected, there's a way to retract from both scenarios successfully!

State politely but firmly that you understand their situation, but, based on the market value research you did, you have been expecting an amount around … (State your number). This sentence re-positions a new price anchor while helping you keep your composure.

If that approach doesn't make a break-through, don't give up and discuss further alternatives to negotiate a better deal.

  • Find out if the company has the practice of offering a sign-up bonus.
  • In case the sign-up bonus is unavailable, throw your next ace on the table.  Ask if there is a performance evaluation process within the first 3-6 months from your start that will allow you to bridge the pay gap then? With that, you indeed show up as a highly confident expert. Aside from making HR a bit uncomfortable, you will also, at the same time, win their respect.
  • However, if none of the above tactics work, know when to stop so you don't appear pushy! Plus, you will have to decide would you undersell yourself, if you accept the offer as it is or if you are better off walking away.

Rule #6: Demonstrate Flexibility, Rather Than Getting Fixated on a Number

Compensation is not only about the financial remuneration, but it translates into all the perks and benefits that come alongside your salary. So do you have a special goodie you would like to arrange for yourself?

Then the salary negotiation conversation is a perfect moment to bring up that topic. Get imaginative here and write in advance a list of your needs. Then ASK! It has never been easier to request perks than after COVID-19 when many companies have become more flexible and agile. Few examples you can stretch to:

  • Hybrid or fully remote office
  • Relocation package
  • Spouse relocation adaptation support
  • Childcare support
  • Home office set-up budget
  • Yearly training budget
  • Gym membership
  • Food vouchers and so on

In short, go beyond discussing only your cash compensation! Instead, use the time wisely to agree on your total package that puts and will put a smile on your face when you encounter the first work challenges once already hired! Think long-term, and don't make compromises you will regret two months down the road!

Rule #7: Don’t Play Too Hard to Get Like Brad Pitt on the Job Market

Always keep a tone open for negotiation! If the salary negotiation is tough at the moment and odds are you will not get what you want, don't bite that trigger. Keep calm, no matter how much you want to play hard to get. We have a better tactic!

Say these magic words instead: “I want to make this work!”

Or “I am sure we can come to an agreement, good for both sides!”

Rule #8: Remind Them Your Top Skill That Makes You Worth Getting the Cash You Requested

One of the most crucial success determinants in the process is the following top rule:

Negotiate when your stakes are highest, not in the beginning!

First, demonstrate your epic glory on the work scene! Ideally, you want to show them a tasty piece of what they will get. And remember, if negotiations get tough for whatever reason, connect the number you asked for to your top skill they want in-house!

Speaking of aces, did you know that Stanford College research found out women are better than men if they use communal packaging in their salary negotiation process. In addition, women outperform men in representational negotiation - or convincing their counterparts they deserve a better salary for all the value they can bring to the community!

Rule #9: Play in One Team With HR

Change the frame of how you think about negotiation! Maybe you will feel much better knowing that 80% of recruiters expect candidates to negotiate and respect this skill.

Adversarial battle with HR is needless at best and harmful in worse-case scenarios. Finding a great candidate is not easy, and both the employer and you have the same goal - to agree on an offer that's good for the two sides. The last thing HR wants is you canceling their offer, which puts them back again at Square 1 with the Recruitment process.

Rule #10: Fear of Appearing Greedy, Inconsiderate, or Having the Offer Withdrawn!

Such worry feels real for many candidates and comes from social conditioning. That's why breaking free from this illusion is crucial by reversing the narrative in your head! It is not bad, but good to negotiate. Especially for some roles, being able to arrange yourself a tasty compensation package is a sneak peek of how amazing you will be at the job role!

Rule #11: Ultimatums Seldom Work on Hrs, Certainly Not in Salary Negotiations

So you have other offers too?! Great, use it like luxurious leverage to compare prices and even for a self-esteem boost, but not to smash an ultimatum right in HR's face.

Even though this attitude may look like a winner strategy, it is the other way around. Ultimatums are a losing battle.

Rule #12: If Unsure, Do Not Accept or Reject! Take Your Time!

Often candidates are so overexcited about getting the dream offer that they accept it right on the spot. It applies especially to Junior professionals who are not so used to the Salary negotiation game yet! So we want to put it loud and clear: it is acceptable to ask for time to review the offer and come back to HR shortly! You will not be penalized for it, even though your mind tells you so! Hence take your time and make an informed decision.

Rule #13: Train Your Saying-No Muscle

Finally – how often do you stop to realize that every lousy deal you've gotten has one common denominator - you! This experience may be so unpleasant that it probably still leaves a bad taste in your mouth! So, exercising your saying-No muscle is crucial. We've got you covered if you still find it hard to say NO. Please, check out our excellent blog post on How to decline a job offer. How to decline a job offer.


Here are the most important takeaways you take to your salary negotiations:

  • Coin your market value through industry research and personal outreach;
  • Get clear on your needs list and calculate your reservation price + 10 %;
  • Don’t use pressure tactics and keep the negotiation door open at all times;
  • Identify your TOP skill to convince HR you deserve to be paid what you desire;
  • Don’t beg, stay calm and composed without giving in too soon or dragging it too long;
  • Use a price anchor that positions you optimally;
  • Always start the salary negotiation after you've charmed them;
  • Say No, if needed!
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Liliya Foteva
Work Psychologist and Grant writer with 10 yrs experience in the Corporate & Social domain. Communication is my middle name! I love to travel, read (usually a la playa :) ) and chill with friends!
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