Negotiate A Better Salary With One Simple Technique

Negotiate A Better Salary With One Simple Technique

After 20 years of working in recruitment there is a fundamental truth when it comes to negotiating a salary – the client always wants to negotiate at the point of making a formal offer. With more and more clients preferring to negotiate direct with the candidate at offer stage it can put the jobseeker in an uncomfortable position right at the point that they are at their most vulnerable – ie. when they are mentally and emotionally committed to accepting the new role. Here is a simple tip to maximise your salary without feeling like you've had to fight a battle to get there.

A common situation is that when talking about salary a candidate will throw a figure out there that is their dream figure when the reality is that their happy place is a few k under the figure they quote. The client knows this so when they come to offer they tend to throw a figure out there that is significantly lower than both the dream figure and the happy place – which triggers a painful and uncomfortable exchange which results in the meeting somewhere in the middle. An example conversation might be:

  • Candidate: I'm looking for 60k
  • Client: I'm afraid we aren't looking to offer that
  • Candidate: What are you looking to pay?
  • Client: 50k

Suddenly we are negotiating as if we are at a market stall, but with someone's salary, and the likely outcome is the candidate will grudgingly accept a figure just under their original happy place (probably around the 55k mark in this case)

So – the challenge is to get the client to stop thinking low, as above, and start thinking high.

How do we do that? Look at the example below:

  • Candidate: I'm looking for 60k
  • Client: I'm afraid we aren't looking to offer that
  • Candidate: OK understood. How close to 60k are you looking to pay?

That's as simple as it can be. In one sentence you've challenged the client to think high (“hmmm I need to get as close to 60k as I can to get this person to accept”) rather than low which is where they will aim given free range to suggest a figure. I'd expect the second scenario to result in a 57k or 58k agreement.

Hopefully you won't be talking to a client who understands how effective this technique is as they can do the very same in reverse (Client: We have a budget for this role of 50k and although I understand you are asking for 60k I need to know how close to 50k you'll accept)

Give it a go and see what difference it can make!

Come follow the Skillsearch LinkedIn page for more tips and of course to get a feel for the jobs we have available.


Richard Fisher


Our CEO fitness fanatic and father of 3 Richard will be found running or in the gym every lunch as he says that’s the only place he ever gets any peace and quiet. Voted 9 out of 10 as a geek by the team Richards top 3 loves are Star Wars, Tottenham Hotspur and his family – although we aren’t sure in which order. Richard is the office oracle and says what he doesn’t know about recruitment isn’t worth knowing – we haven’t managed to prove him wrong yet!

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