Seven Tried and True Job Negotiation Tactics

Whether you’re meeting with your boss or a new client, thinking through negotiation tactics can be enough to make us cringe—you know, like that time we kept singing even though the music had stopped.


I know this, because after spending years as a consultant doing it annually for myself,  I now have to do it regularly for a slew of new clients.

And so, I give you my top seven tips for walking away from the table happy.

Negotiation Tactic #1: Know Your Worth…Beforehand

Nothing kills a negotiation faster than not having a number in mind.

One of the best negotiation tactics I can provide is to have a salary or hourly rate in mind that matches your level of expertise and the market value.

If you are an employee, do a bit of comparative research to better prepare—check sources such as PayScale or Glassdoor.

If you’re a consultant, understand your fees are a write-off for the company—which means they SAVE money by hiring you over a full-time employee.

Negotiation Tactic #2: Zip Your Lips

Ever hear the phrase, whomever speaks first, loses?

Become comfortable with the silence.

Once you make a statement, end that last syllable on a strong note.

If you’re hearing crickets, don’t worry about filling the space with your reasons (and I know you have many).

Make them ask for it.

Negotiation Tactic #3: Tie Money to Results

If you are an employee asking for a raise (whether or not you are due for one), discuss your value add to the company.

It doesn’t mean that you have to start accomplishing more, but one of your negotiation tactics should be to reframe your daily efforts in a way that cuts through the noise.

If you are a consultant, understand the goals of the company and what you are being brought onboard to achieve.

Many times, echoing back the hopes of a client is a good way to ensure that you are both on the same page, and that you will deliver what they are asking for.

Negotiation Tactic #4: Don’t Take the First Offer

Actually, here is a caveat—if you propose a number, and your employer or client matches or exceeds it, who am I to tell you to think it over?

Many times, I believe more money doesn’t equal more happiness‚ and studies back that up.

But, if conversations begin to spiral downward like an episode of Flea Market Flip, tell them you’ll need to take their kind offer back to give it serious consideration.

Negotiation Tactic #5: Dress Professionally and Comfortably

The last thing you want to do is play with a button, loosen your tie, or shift around in an ill-fitting skirt while sitting in the hot seat.

You’ll be more comfortable, if you are more comfortable.

Trust me.

Negotiation Tactic #6: Poke Holes in Your Story

These negotiation tactics should build you up, not tear you down, right? So why would you want to poke holes in your own story?

Because then you are prepared for when the other side does the same.

Ask yourself the hard questions that could trip you up.

Write them down, come up with answers, and grab a close friend and practice.

Or, tweet them at me—I promise I’ll reply!

Negotiation Tactic #7: Think About the Total Package, Not Just Money

For employees, if the money is tight—what other benefits can you work in: Flexible vacation or telework options?

For consultants, could you take compensation in trade (restaurants/bars or other materials goods)?

Own the Conversation with These Negotiation Tactics

Whether you are in-house or out, these negotiation tactics will put the power in your hands.

Now, go be like Drew Carey, and let’s make a deal!

image credit: shutterstock

Elise Perkins

Elise Perkins is a communications and marketing professional who found herself in DC after college, bringing her husband and dog along with her. She founded EP Communications in 2014, after seven years of working for trade associations and think tanks. Today, she focuses on building brands for businesses and people, using a savvy mix of content and influencer strategies. She's passionate about entrepreneurship, making a mess in the kitchen and boxed wine.

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