Smart Negotiation Techniques That Actually Work

Most of us have heard the tried-and-true advice for salary negotiation. Give a range, not a number. Do your research first. While this is solid advice, it doesn’t always work.

Negotiation can be difficult or intimidating for many people. If you’re on the lookout for your next job, try these fresh, research-backed tips to inject new energy into your negotiating tactics.

Remember the Day of the Week Matters

Here’s the easiest way to increase your odds of succeeding: Negotiate on a Thursday or Friday. Research shows people are more agreeable toward the end of the week. With your new employer worn out by the work week and focused on wrapping things up by the weekend, you’re more likely to get what you want if you ask at the end of the week.

Ask Not Just for Yourself But Also for Your Family

Most people looking for a job need to make a living for themselves and any family members they support. There’s nothing wrong with this basic fact of life, yet many job seekers feel ashamed to negotiate a higher salary. Women especially are socialised to be self-sacrificing and may try to portray themselves as more focused on contributing to the organisation than on making money.

But the salary you accept today will set the pace for all of your future earnings, so the higher you start the better. If you feel uncomfortable asking for more money for yourself, keep in mind your current and future dependents.

If you already have children, you have a concrete motivation to make as much money as you can. If you’re single, remember you may not stay single forever. Even if you don’t want to have children, you may end up supporting a spouse or caring for aging parents one day. So keep this selfless motivation in mind when it comes time to negotiate.

Offer Something in Return

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes for a moment. Regardless of how happy she is with your hiring, there are many factors that go into her decision to give you a good salary. She has to answer to higher-level managers above her as well as navigate concrete limits like an annual budget. So keep in mind any negotiation you have over salary or a raise isn’t personal.

That said, you shouldn’t wait around for someone to recognise your value and offer you more money. The best way to succeed in asking for a raise or negotiating a higher salary is to bring concrete evidence of your value to the table. When you’re asking for something, offer value in return.

This could be a way to save the company money, such as taking on enough responsibilities to eliminate the need for another position. Or you could describe an innovative idea the company will lose out on if you go work somewhere else. Be as specific as possible. Regardless of what the value is, a little “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” can go a long way.

Find Out the Most They’ve Ever Paid Someone in Your Position

Sometimes employers will try to tell you everyone in your position is paid the same amount of money. They will imply no one else has tried to negotiate to discourage you from “going rogue” and asking for more. But that’s almost never true. You just need to try a different tactic to win the negotiation game.

If the usual negotiation tactics are getting you nowhere, get employers’ attention with the question, “What’s the most you’ve ever paid someone to do this job?” Even if they fudge the answer a little, you’re still likely to end up with more than initially offered. And by tying your request to a precedent, you make a logical case for more money that your employer will have a hard time refusing.

Try for a Conditional Agreement if You Can’t Get a Firm ‘Yes’

If you’ve tried everything and your new employer still won’t budge, you have two options: agree to the offer or walk away. If you decide to stay, you don’t have to accept total defeat. Propose an accomplishment such as increasing sales or employee productivity that would make your boss agree to revisit a raise.

Or you could simply ask, “If now isn’t a good time, could we discuss my salary again in 6 months?” You will most likely be able to find something your boss will agree to. Then make sure you follow up once the agreed-upon period has passed. When you do, bring concrete proof of your accomplishments.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she's a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. You can find her tweeting on her coffee breaks @SarahLandrum