Chapter 3 The art of salary or rate negotiation

This section is incredibly important. It will make the difference between an income of $60,000 per year versus $100,000 per year just by changing your mindset. Your self-confidence, self-worth and perceived confidence will sell the best version of you for the most money every time. Employers hardly ever make their best offer first, and candidates who negotiate their salary almost always earns more than those who don’t. I will use rate and salary interchangeably but know that when I talk about rate, I am talking about contract work versus salary which is compensation for full-time employment.

Tip: People who at least attempt to ask for a higher salary are perceived more positively, since they’re demonstrating the skills the company wants to hire them for.

Let me stop here and make a quick point. I personally guarantee that if you follow the information in these first few chapters you will get more money for the same job hands down. On a brilliance scale from 1 to 10, I already know you’re a 10 because you took the time to buy this book in order to make an additional $1k - $50k just by doing some research. I urge you to help me out, if, I have helped you out. Give me and my book rave reviews to your friends, colleagues and especially on websites like and Now back to the fun.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to negotiating your best salary yet:

Do your research

Before you go for an interview, you should find out what the market rates are for the job you’re looking for. There are salary surveys available online, and if you’re dealing with a recruitment agency, your recruiter should be able to advise you on the salary range for the position.

I’m going to repeat the following point a few times in this book to make my point. I strongly urge you to reply to every single recruiter who contacts you for the exact same position to find out what they will offer you as compensation for the position. You may be extremely surprised at the drastic range in compensation you are quoted!

Check online job boards and see what companies are offering for a particular city and area of expertise. I find that general reports on income by profession are grossly inaccurate and misleading. 

You need to see first-hand what companies are willing to pay. Chances are, the companies that do not post a salary or hourly rate are hiding the fact that they pay way too little. If there is no rate or salary, send them an email and apply whether you’re interested or not and ask them what the rate or salary is just so you have a point of reference. The more information you have, the better you’ll be able to sell yourself.

Think about what you want from the job, both in terms of the job itself and in terms of remuneration. This will help you appear more self-assured during the interview and salary negotiation process. The more specific your demands are, the better you’re perceived and received by the employer.

The newest studies in business psychology show that you’re perceived in an entirely different light when you come into an interview with an agenda and knowing exactly what you want out of the job. It demonstrates decisiveness, vision and forethought.

Talk money early

Tip: You should always ask about compensation before any interview. This is usually done in the pre-screen process before the real interview ever takes place. Don’t waste your time and the company’s time by not doing your due-diligence upfront.

While we all want to earn more when we change jobs, no employer wants to hire someone whose only motivation to change jobs is a higher salary. At the same time, your time is valuable and going into an interview for 4 hours only to find out it pays way less than you would even remotely find acceptable is a waste of your time and the company’s time. Make sure you know exactly what the pay or pay range is up front. No matter what a recruiter or a company says, the company has a budget restriction that correlates to a range the hiring manager can work from. You need to know what this range is in order to get the best rate or salary you can.

So, how do you answer the inevitable interview question, “What salary are you looking for?” This is where your homework becomes invaluable. Hopefully, you’ll know the market rates for the type of position you‘re looking for. It’s better to give a range rather than a specific number — you don’t want to give a salary that’s perhaps lower than the employer is looking to pay, but you don’t want to price yourself out of the market, either. Emphasize that you’re primarily interested in finding the right job for you, and that salary isn’t your main consideration. But, at the same time, my immediate response is always:

“What is the very best rate (or salary) for this position?”

Believe me, you may have to ask a few times before you get an answer, but eventually you will get the information you want. The only reason why recruiters don’t want to give you this information is because they want to make as much money as possible when placing you. If you don’t mind giving away your money, than by all means, don’t bother to ask questions. You and I both know, you want as much money as possible for your hard work and time.

Tip: Some recruiters will base what you should receive for the new position off of what you have recently made. This is unfair and frankly is wrong in my opinion. I either tell them that the information is not something I can talk about or I make up a number that matches what I expect from the new position. You are doing yourself a disservice by divulging information that will most likely be used against you.

Some recruiters have WAY more latitude than they let on.

The typical recruiter almost always has the ability to make the final decision on your compensation package. After you negotiate with them, they will need to go back and confirm the package with a hiring manager or supervisor.

In other words, the recruiter is going to sell you to the hiring manager. It’s up to them to communicate why you deserve a higher salary. You want their support, because they’re going to sell you at a rate that is commensurate with their impression of your personality and skill set. You can help the recruiter out by giving them justification for the compensation you’re asking for and by not coming across as greedy or egotistical. The single biggest mistake that most candidates make when it comes to salary negotiation is telling the recruiter what they would be willing to accept. 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 give a number. One way to avoid this common mistake is to ask about the salary range the very first time you talk to a recruiter or hiring manager. If it’s not enough, than be nice and give clear reasons for the compensation you do require. You’re not battling against them, you’re working with them. You would be amazed at what a little time spent negotiating can accomplish. You really have nothing to lose.

I have worked with some honest recruiters in the past and I have worked with some less than reputable ones and take my word, you need to run when you smell a rat. I remember taking a position for a company well under my normal rate just because I needed work fast and the job description made it sound easy with very little responsibility. I went back and forth with the recruiter trying to squeeze as much out of the rate as possible before finally accepting. I ended up with a rate that was $65 per hour and believe me it was a fight to the end to get this much. The recruiter also let me know that I would receive a sign on bonus if I stayed at least 30 days. This seemed sort of odd since I didn’t even ask for it but I was more than willing to accept it under the circumstances.

By the third day on the job, my boss let it slip that the company was paying my recruiter $135 per hour! Let’s do the math here. The recruiter is paying me $65 per hour and the company using the recruiter is paying the recruiter $135 per hour. The recruiter is making $70 per hour profit for every single hour I work. The recruiter is not only scamming me out of money but also scamming the company out of a much more experienced developer who would readily accept $100+ per hour versus $65 per hour. The company just got lucky that they hired me for that lesser rate. I guess that sign-on bonus wasn’t so odd after all.

Needless to say, I re-negotiated the terms with the recruiter and was making over $100 per hour which was still far less than what the company was paying the recruiter! However, I was happier in the end, produced better work and stayed longer because of the additional money. This is a rare thing to have happen to anyone. I got lucky and although I don’t recommend doing this, I will say that I would do it every single time, at the risk of losing the job. Sometimes you have to do things on principle, if you have the latitude to get away with it.

It’s important to research the company and the position a recruiter is hiring for to try and get some semblance of what the position is actually paying. You will most likely receive emails from multiple recruiters for the exact same position and I urge you to respond to all of them with the following statement:

”What is the very best rate (salary) for this position?”

I think you’ll be extremely surprised at the responses you get. The exact same position for the exact same company will have a dramatically different range of compensation depending on who the recruiter is.

Example: I received 10 emails from different recruiters for a senior architect position with a company (Let’s call the company XYZ) and to each recruiter, I responded asking what the very best rate for the position was. I was floored by the responses I received which were anywhere from $50 per hour to $125 per hour for the exact same position with the exact same job requisition number!

Shop around and find the best recruiter you can. It makes a dramatic difference. After all, a recruiter represents you and is tied to you for the duration of the contract. If it’s a full time position, that’s a different story but I leave it up to you to make the right choice as to whether you feel comfortable with the recruiter you’re dealing with.

Believe that you CAN negotiate in this economy

Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” Your belief about your self-worth and your level of self-confidence can take you further than any other skill you have. 

You must believe you deserve the most money you can get from a position. Pretend you’re your own talent manager and write down your strengths as if you were going to sell yourself. If you don’t believe you deserve every penny of what you’re worth than why should anyone else? You might as well stop reading now, because no amount of information is ever going to help you get ahead if you lack the self-confidence to walk the walk. If you believe it, you can achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to ask — But don’t demand, either

Know what you’re worth is and don’t be afraid to ask for it. No one loses a job offer because they ask questions — however, you can have a job offer pulled because of the way you ask them. It’s important that your salary or rate request is within the ballpark of the range for the position, so avoid giving a specific number until the employer is ready to make you an offer. Remember to be enthusiastic, polite and professional during negotiations. Communicate to your prospective employer through your tone of voice and demeanor, that your goal is a win-win solution. If you’re too pushy, the employer may get the impression that you’re not that interested in the job (or only interested in the money) and withdraw the offer.

Keep selling yourself

As you go through the interviewing and negotiating process, remind the employer how they’ll benefit from your skills and experience. Let’s say, for example, that the employer wants to offer $70K, but you’re looking for minimum $90K base salary. Explain how they’d benefit by increasing your compensation.

For example:

“I realize you have a budget to worry about. However, I believe that with the desktop publishing and graphic design skills I bring to the position, you won’t have to hire outside vendors to produce customer newsletters and other publications. That alone should produce far more than $20K in savings a year.”

In other words, justify every additional dollar or benefit you request. Remember to do so by focusing on the employer’s needs, not yours.

Make them jealous

If you’re interviewing for other jobs, you might want to tell employers about those offers. This should speed up the acceptance process. If they know you have another offer, you’ll seem more attractive to them, and it might help you negotiate a higher salary.

Tip: Sometimes when asked, I conjure other offers and interviews out of thin air. I do this to invoke a need of immediacy in order to get everyone moving as quickly as possible and to give myself some additional leverage when requesting compensation for a position. Get good at the bluff, it will serve you well.

Ask for a fair price

Again, you really need to ensure your compensation requests are reasonable and in line with the current marketplace. If the salary offer is below market value, you might want to gently suggest it’s in the company’s best interest to pay the going rate:

“The research that I’ve done indicates the going rate for a position such as this is $6K higher than this offer. I’d really love to work for you and I believe I can add a lot of value in this job; however, I can’t justify doing so for less than market value. I think if you reevaluate the position and consider its importance to your bottom line, you’ll find it’s worth paying market price to get someone who can really make an impact quickly.”

Negotiate extras and be creative!

If the employer can’t offer you the salary you want, think about other valuable options that might not cost them as much. You can look at negotiating holiday days (e.g. if new employees must work for 6 to 12 months before receiving paid holidays, ask that this restriction be waived.), ask for yearly salary reviews or negotiate a sign-on or performance bonus.

Be confident

Remember to use confident body language and speech patterns. When you make a salary request, don’t go on and on, stating over and over why it’s justified. Make your request and offer a short, simple explanation of why that amount is appropriate.

Tip: It’s a smart negotiating strategy to ask for a few benefits or perks you don’t want that badly. Then you can “give in” and agree to take the job without those added benefits, if, the employer meets all of your other requests.

Ideally, both parties in a negotiation should come away from the table feeling that they’ve won. This is especially true when you’re dealing with salary negotiations. You want employers to have good feelings about the price paid for your services so that your working relationship begins on a positive note.

Keep track of what you have done well

The greatest tool that you have in any interview is proof. Keep examples of your best work, thank you notes from clients, awards or recognitions, and positive work evaluations. Once you discover what is important to the company and how your skills can meet those needs, you can then use these items as proof of the value you can provide. It’s a lot easier to get a higher salary when you have proof of why you deserve it.

Don’t take it personally

Easier said than done? Not with practice. Maybe you’ll get what you want. Maybe you won’t. Life will move on either way. Most people will never have a negotiation that will make or break their life. 

Keep it real and don’t get emotionally involved. If you ask for more than the job is willing to pay, let them call your bluff. It’s going to be a numbers game and the more you play the game, the better you’ll be at it and the more money you will make for the exact same 40 hours a week. Get the most money for your time!


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