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I really am the type of person who doesn't feel comfortable demanding higher pay. I feel perhaps that others are like me, that they are simply more lenient or compliant. So sometimes you want to push back, but you feel much less inclined because you don't want to risk throwing out the whole offer, or perhaps causing a lot of inconvenience (especially if it's a larger firm where 17 people might need to OK it..).

This isn't for big increases, but rather for 5% or even 3% increases.

Are there any palatable ways of doing this? For example, could I joke that "hey I have to have my daily cappuccino!" (to maybe get a 1K bonus)? I don't want it to come across as saying "I'm bitter and think you guys are stingy, GRRR!"

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    There really isn't a good way to joke about a serious topic without weakening your negotiating position (by making you sound like you regard this as more trivial than it is). "$80k/year? My bartender's daughter needs braces -- he's depending on my tips!" is far less likely to get the job done than being well researched and confident. There is nothing "bitter" about asking for money -- salespeople do it all the time. It is fair payment for services rendered -- nothing bitter about that. – jmac Jul 1 '13 at 23:42
  • This would be an easier question to answer if more is known about what you do. It would not surprise me that you are in a role that has an oversupply of candidates, and you're getting paid what you are because you're easily replaced. Getting more money may involve some career development. – Meredith Poor Jul 1 '13 at 23:49
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    The key here is to develop your skills and your value to the company (and/or to competing employers) and then make your case convincingly. Humor is generally not constructive. Requesting a 3-5% raise seems strange to me; the message you send in doing so is that you agree that your salary is already in the right ballpark. Increments of around 20% are absolutely attainable if your request is well-substantiated. In the U.S. job market, securing a higher-paying job offer from another employer is often the easiest way to achieve a raise, either by changing jobs or by bargaining to stay. – Miles Erickson Jul 2 '13 at 10:02
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    Related question and another. Both have content which is valuable here as well. – enderland Jul 2 '13 at 13:18
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    I'm an inveterate job hopper, and I've learned from hard experience that your starting salary really sets managements's expectations for you. I've had a lot of job offers where they wanted me to start at a nominal salary, but guaranteed that they would bump it up after my first review, "just to get it past HR." Never happened. The best way to negotiate salary is calmly, confidently, and in a matter-of-fact manner: "it's nothing personal, but this is how it's done." It doesn't hurt to have a back-pocket offer ready--exuding confidence is easier when you have options. – Curt Jul 8 '13 at 23:43
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+100

I'd suggest that you need to have done your homework, so that you can phrase your request in terms more concrete than "I'd like more".

You need to know what's a reasonable offer for that position, why you might be worth more than that, and how to put that across as a reasonable request.

"You're offering me a typical entry level salary for this position. I have several years of relevant industry experience in the technology stack you're using, so I'm not going to have the same amount of ramp-up time before being productive. Do you have any room to increase your offer?"

or ...

"I've just finished working as an intern for you over the summer. You already know that I have the right skills and that I'm a good team fit. I believe I'm worth more than what you've offered so far."

A couple of notes ...

... I've been advised (and have found) that naming an actual figure is often a mistake. Let the other person decide how much to change their offer - you might be pleasantly surprised. Also, giving a low figure can work to devalue you and actually work against you getting anything at all.

... Explain your motivation for believing you're worth more than the average potential hire. You've already made it to the top of the pile, else you wouldn't be receiving an offer - leverage that.

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    Best advice I've seen on this board in quite a while. – Wesley Long Jul 1 '13 at 21:07
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    Not only is it good advice, it forces the other side to bring their "A" game to the table and gives you some good intelligence on how they function. – Blrfl Jul 1 '13 at 21:52
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    "Also, giving a low figure can work to devalue you" - I have found that it is ALWAYS beneficial to request more, because even if you do not get it, it places a fundamental value on you as an employee in the mindset of a manager. They immediately feel they got a good "deal" on your employment, and will generally treat you much better as an employee knowing so. – NRGdallas Jul 1 '13 at 22:29
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    To emphasize your great advice: Argue why you are worth more to your company than you are paid for, not why you need a higher salary. Also, good advice in general: be serious about serious topics - there is no room for joking. – fjdumont Jul 2 '13 at 9:48
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    When I've asked for a pay rise in the past, my boss has asked me to put what I want on paper. I give a figure which is on the high side of realistic, he likes to feel like he's negotiated me down a bit. – Jaydee Jul 2 '13 at 12:48
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As someone who has both interviewed and been interviewed, I would say that you might not want to risk being humorous at this critical point. It could make you seem passive or nervous when what you want to relay is assertion and confidence that you're worth precisely what you're offering.

If it sounds like you're giving them a deal, they might think you're damaged goods. If it sounds like you're asking for more than you're worth, they might think you're opportunistic and grabby.

If you feel you really need to lower the boom, you could always ask them what the range at which they usually hire people for the given position is. Then, if the high end of their range sounds acceptable, ask for almost, but not quite that amount. That is, unless you really need and deserve more.

7

Humour really doesn't play into this at all, but neither does "wanting more". We all want more, all of us. The real question is are you worth more?

Do your research and look into what your contemporaries are being paid, look at previous job offers, job ads, and compare yourself honestly. Managers are in the business of getting more value from you than they pay you, thats what makes them good managers.

If you want more you have to show that you are worth more!

  • eh, -1. You can always get more money, you're almost always worth more. I think that engineers (or just non-sales, non-frontend-finsnace) people always go in thinking they're inconveniencing people asking for more money - typically because of attitudes like this. The end game is money (or you're one of the minority who really love their job) so just milk the system for what it is worth. – bharal Jul 2 '13 at 8:55
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    @bharal if you are only going to be bringing X amount of value to the company you wont't get paid more than X. You aren't always worth more, you are worth as much as you are able to bring to the company. The trick is to find that value of worth that you will be bringing. – Rhys Jul 2 '13 at 9:00
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I can almost assure you based on personal experience that this depends on the hierarchical level who you are negotiating the salary with. Even more importantly, you need to have a feel for the person.
A lot of people 'higher up' may be more humorous and approachable and willing to make a 'deal' than the HR professional who is trying to make a name in the department by recruiting candidates at salaries the company didnt imagine would be possible. When dealing with people at any level (responsible for your recruitment) I think you need to have that subtle touch of professional sternness and scalable humane humor.

4

OK, I'll give this one a shot:

First, if you're "afraid" of losing the entire offer, then you aren't negotiating, you're begging. There is no negotiating if either side is not willing to walk away entirely. Negotiations are two parties coming together to explore the possibilities of an exchange and to go through a back-and-forth on terms.

If you've already committed to working there, even though you've never said it, then you're no longer negotiating. You don't have an "exit" option, and you are willing to take whatever they offer you.

Humor is a very bad idea at this point. If you don't take yourself seriously, then how can they expect you to take their business seriously?

This is your one and only opportunity to decide what your work is worth. That shouldn't be a number, it should be a range. You will listen to their offer, including the non-monetary compensation components, and decide if it is within your range or not. If it is, then you accept. If it is not, you say, "This is less than I believe my contributions are worth. Is there room for an increase in the base salary, or can you add ($x more per year / gym membership / public transit pass / free parking / additional vacation time / flying pony) to your offer?"

If they cannot, then you politely thank them for their time and consideration, and move on to the next offer or go back to your existing job.

It doesn't need to be at all confrontational. You are each stating the facts of your positions. You are stating what you are worth. They are stating what they can or are willing to offer. If they coincide, you have a deal. If they don't, then there is no deal. There is no confrontation. Neither side should be taking it personally or emotionally.

If this is not your mindset, then you are not negotiating.

  • Love your answer, but the first two paragraphs especially about the essence of negotiation are eye-opening for me. Is there a book you've read that you'd recommend for learning about negotiation? What do you think about the idea of practicing negotiation by engaging in it even in trivial situations? – jeremy radcliff Nov 26 '15 at 19:34
2

One technique I often use to start negotiations and to counter an offer is "what more would you expect from me to justify a salary of £x?". It could be that you can demonstrate that you're already doing, or capable of doing what they'd expect of you to command the higher salary.

If it's a new job, I often don't tell them what my salary expectations are, or what I was on before, and justify it by saying that if they're interested in my skills, I'd like them to make an offer based on what they are worth to the business, and not what they think I'd accept - this is a particularly useful technique if you've come from a job where you were paid way below market rates.

2

There are 2 different ways I do negotiations:

Firstly I always ask what they are willing to give.

  1. I get somebody else to negotiate for me, this is usually a recruiter. I give them 2 numbers

    • Opening offer
    • Lowest offer, under this amount the negotiator most contact me for approval
    • I have a number which I keep to myself which I am willing to accept
  2. When negotiating for myself I am very strict, and will walk away if I think they are jerking my chain on the first offer - for example if it's much less than the industry standard. If they don't respect you during salary negotiations they won't respect you on the job.

In figures I like to split the difference, so if they offer $1000 and I want $1500 I'll ask for $2000 and negotiate them up. This doesn't always work, and sometimes a different approach is needed.

Just this week I was called up and told my initial request was substantually higher than that of another candidate, I was told to name a figure and they would not negotiate about the amount that figure would be final.

I said I believed I was worth that figure to the company, and suggested that we institute an evaluation period, if after 6 months I had proven my value to the company I would be paid what I originally asked for, but I would not go for the price of my competitor it would still need to be higher.

1

Even if there was a humorous, less-confrontational ways to negotiate a starting salary. Why would one do that?

It propagates the message that you can't communicate your matter when it comes to a serious topic. And to start off like this, would not be desirable.

It'd recommend you to mentally list valid arguments that indicate your level of skill, let's call them hard factors, and soft factors like your marital status, kids, maybe life situation (you just bought a house just for instance...) and to have a strong and clear vision of what you want.

If you make valid points and a reasonable estimation, you will lead a friendly conversation in which people meet on an equal footing and where it is not necessary to lure sb. by means of humor.

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    +1 for preparing arguments, but the employers should never care about the "soft" factors. Your life choices aren't their problem. Your skills and experiences are valid negotiating points. – Wesley Long Jul 13 '13 at 15:40
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There are already several excellent answers. I would add not to forget non-monetary compensation. The company may offer excellent medical benefits, or excellent training / continuing educational benefits. You may be able to rearrange your schedule to a four-day work week, and/or work from home, etc. Even if the hiring manager doesn't have much leeway in terms of monetary compensation, s/he may be able to offer you additional paid time off in lieu of additional pay.

But here again, you need to be prepared to negotiate ... so you need to find out what's typical in your field and in your area (given your level of experience) ... and of course you need to think about what (if anything) you would be willing to accept as a substitute for monetary compensation.

I find it's good to ask about these types of things anyway, as it helps give me a sense of the organizational culture.

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    This does not really answer the original quesiton asked. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 2 '13 at 17:46
  • @Chad The original question was about monetary compensation, true. But there are other forms of compensation which can impact one's budget -- which is presumably one's reason for engaging in salary negotiations in the first place -- so it's not off-topic (IMO) to point those out. Not all "non-monetary" compensation has that kind of value, and I did debate whether I should "answer" or "comment" ... but I did qualify my "answer" with an indication that I considered it somewhat of a footnote. – David Jul 3 '13 at 16:52
  • the quesiton is about negotiation not compensation. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 3 '13 at 16:57

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