Techniques and Tactics for Negotiating Salary

Feeling emotional when approaching any type of negotiation is normal, but to negotiate effectively you need to understand how to ask for what you want. To help maximize the salary in your contract, raise, or promotion, here are a few techniques to consider.

Know Your Numbers
To determine if a salary is too high or low, you have to know what is valuable to you and what would make an offer more appealing. Create a compensation package worksheet that includes monthly expenses, clothing, housing, transportation, healthcare, lifestyle, and other commitments. Doing so will help you visualize which expenses are necessity and which are extra, and you will feel more confident and better able to manage your responses.

Show How Your Skills Will Benefit the Company
It is important to relate your skill set, experience, and compensation from your previous role to the job requirements of the position you are applying for. This will help build your case for negotiating your salary. Remember to research and come prepared. Useful information can be found on the employer’s website, industry professional websites, and general salary information sites like and the U.S. Department of Labor.

Understand the Concept of Leverage
While it might be tough to accept, the truth is that a jobseeker’s leverage starts at zero and stays at zero throughout the majority of the interview process—from the screening phone call, to the first and second interviews, to the panel interview, meet-and-greet with staff, and courtesy call with the CEO. However, once an offer is made, your leverage is at its maximum level. Then, when you accept an offer, your leverage drops back close to zero. This is why it is important not to talk salary before an offer is made.

It is Ok to Ask Questions
There is always give-and-take when it comes to benefits, so it is important to find out what the company offers before you discuss salary. For example, you may find that a work-from-home schedule or flexible hours will make the offer more appealing to you and allow you to negotiate more favorably.

Salary negotiation can be daunting, but keeping these techniques front of mind can help you be more effective and successful. As always, remember that UMUC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Visit CareerQuest to check out the latest job postings, career tools, or to set up an appointment with a UMUC Career Advising Specialist.

Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist for Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland University College. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.