How to Get the Salary You Want

We know that negotiating salary is an overwhelming and scary prospect for most people. But it’s also necessary if you want to be paid fairly. The number one reason why most people don’t get the salary they feel they deserve is because they don’t ask! Not negotiating your salary is a huge mistake that can end up costing your thousands of dollars a year in potential earnings. By following these fail proof tricks (accompanied with a little preparation and the right techniques) you’ll be armed to get the best possible offer!

1. Play Detective

Visit salary benchmarking sites like, or ask around to get a true sense of what the job might pay.

2. Determine the ZOPA

ZOPA is the zone of possible agreement where the range of salary a company might offer intersects with the range that will make you happy. This concept is basically about meeting in the middle.

Here’s an example: Liz’s ZOPA: 26 year old Marketing Specialist living in New York City.

Happy Salary Range: $55k-65k

Market Salary Range: $50k-60k

ZOPA: 55k-65k

3. Don’t name a number

Most candidates don’t like being pressured, so they simply blurt out a number they are willing to take — but you should never be the first one to name a number. You are also under no obligation to reveal what you made at your last job. If you say something too high, then they will think that they can’t afford you. If you say something too low, then they will think you’re unqualified — or they’ll jump at the chance to underpay you. If they do question you about your salary expectations, simply ask for more information.

For example, “I’m afraid I’ll need more information about the job and the total benefits before I can name a number. What type of range has the company set for this position?”

Remember, this isn’t an argument. Your tone should be curious, not stubborn.

4. Ask for more than they give

There is usually always some wiggle room when it comes to base salary (usually $5k to 10k), so there usually is some room for negotiation. When they offer you the job and announce the salary, graciously tell them how pleased you are to have the offer and how much you’d like to work there. Then add, “But I was really hoping for x.”

After you say this, be prepared to sell them on why you deserve more money. Focus on how you can provide value to the company with your current skills and experience. This will provide you with significantly more leverage when you start to talk about your salary requirements.

5. Don’t back down

Employers may be hesitant at first. It’s in their interest not to pay you more and get you to work at the lowest possible salary. So expect some initial rejections, like:

“The salary we offered is what we have budgeted for the position and we feel it’s a fair compensation.”

This may sound like it’s the end of the conversation, but it’s not—don’t back down! The key here is to continue to show your enthusiasm and stay confident in your abilities. Try:

“I understand where you’re coming from, and just want to reiterate my enthusiasm for the position and working with you and the team. I think my skills (explain which skills) are perfectly suited for this position, and are worth $65,000.”

6. Be quiet, and wait!

Now, don’t say anything else. Let the silence lie. Don’t try to fill it with more words or justifications. Just wait for the employer to reply. When they do, it may sound something like: “You’ll really be stretching us, but I’ll see what I can do.”

This isn’t the time to feel bad or uncomfortable. Simply reply, “Great, I appreciate that.”

The employer will likely come back to you, and accept your offer or offer something in the middle (this is where ZOPA comes into play). If you asked for more than you wanted, you should feel success in accepting either outcome

Remember, if you don’t ask for a higher salary, then the answer is always no. Yes, negotiation works and yes, it requires some courage to push back with a recruiter or hiring manager. However, it’s far better to ask and be turned down than not to ask at all.