Ryan Stephens Marketing

What You Need To Know About Salary Negotiation

Starved for time and content, I decided I would share some notes I took after hearing salary negotiation specialist, Jim Dixey speak at a recent event.

  • It’s not about you, but the employer
  • The recruiting process is the most discriminatory part of business
  • You’re not the most important person to the recruiter
  • You have to be the best
  • The employer environment is extremely competitive
  • You can throw the concept of a level playing field out the window
  • They will hire the person they like the most virtually every time
  • A paper candidate doesn’t matter
  • Don’t waste your time comparing yourself to someone else
  • Compensation is a lot of things; salary is just one of those
  • A signing bonus locks you in; it’s the least important thing you should worry about
  • Re-location – you won’t get much unless you’re a big wig, or have a family
  • Always focus on salary
  • Your raise is based on your salary
  • Your bonus is based on your base salary
  • Your benefits package is based on salary level
  • Always counter or negotiate the offer; you’re foolish not to
  • Until it is in writing it does not matter


  • Know yourself
  • Know what you bring to the table
  • Know the range you can negotiate within
  • Always negotiate over the phone or face to face, never via email
  • Ask three questions
  • Ask two innocuous questions you would like clarified and bring up salary on the third
  • Start with something like this: “I am following up on the offer. I had a chance to look over it and I have a few questions I would like to ask you.”
  • Here’s an example
    • Ask about relocation (i.e. fees such as deposits – first and last, cost to turn on electric, etc.)
    • Ask about the bonus, is it paid in the first or second paycheck or separately
    • Finally, ask about salary — “The last point I want to discuss is base-salary. I would like to ask you to consider…”
  • Always give a range (i.e. mid-to high $60s), NEVER a firm number
  • This gives them something to ponder — to go and ask about rather than just a firm number to quickly dismiss.

What do you think? What strategies have you implemented in the past? Were they successful? Please leave a comment and let me know what has (or has not) worked for you in your own salary negotiation situations.

  • Great suggestions! As a former internal and external recruiter, I can assure you that EVERYTHING is negotiable.

    I would like to add the following:
    1) When asked about your salary expectations, I agree you should give a range, but also be clear about what benefits you want.
    2) When given the offer by the recruiter, don’t show your cards! Keep a poker face, and say hmmm….
    Use silence to your advantage. Nothing makes an extroverted recruiter more nervous than silence. There is a good chance a rookie recruiter or nervous expert will fill in that silence with either more information or will give you cues that the offer is negotiable.
    3) Always take 24 hours to think over an offer. Say you need to talk things over with your spouse if you need to give a reason for the delay…but either way it will make the recruiter nervous and ready for your counter-offer.
    4) As a recruiter, I never offered the absolute highest possible salary I could give the candidate. I did this because I knew they would (or should) counter-offer and I wanted to be able to increase the offer to make the candidate feel like they had some power.
    5) When the salary itself is NOT negotiable (this is rare, but happens due to salary caps for certain job titles in big organizations) ALWAYS negotiate benefits. Ask for an extra week of vacation or guaranteed tuition reimbursement, etc. These are easy ways for you to get more for your money and the manager could care less about giving these things away.


    admin Reply:

    @ Breanne – Some phenomenal additions that really added to the post. I definitely agree whole-heartily with the notion that you should take AT LEAST 24 hours to think an offer over, and in most instances I don’t see anything wrong with a few days, possibly even a couple of weeks. Also, you made a very good point that if salary is non-negotiable then to go to work on benefits they’d be more than happy to give away.

    No recruiter wants to invest a bunch of time into a candidate they really want only to be turned down at the very end of the entire process. That’s lost opportunity cost.


  • I think salary negotiation should happen after 3-6 months of working there. You don’t want to turn off your recruiter if they offer a decent wage but you want more without proving yourself to them.


    admin Reply:

    @ Marketing Deviant – Everything I have read/heard indicates that you should ALWAYS try and negotiate salary upfront. It’s expected, as Breanne has mentioned and if done tactfully I don’t think you’ll ‘turn off’ the recruiter. Now if they offer you 60K and you immediately ask for 75K as opposed to mid 60s, then yeah, they’re probably going to tell you where you can shove that counter offer.

    That said, I think there’s definitely some validity to your point about proving yourself to your company. Again, this could influence future raises/bonuses, which would also be based on that initial base-salary; don’t be scared to negotiate it.