The Stick Up: What I’ve Learned About Salary/Pay Negotiations

Time and Place

Understand every salary can’t be negotiated. My first salary was slotted like a NBA rookie contract; you’re getting this because this is what rookie’s make, period.

And the Winner is… the person with leverage

And why do rookies make this? Because they have no leverage. Now there are some instances when an entry level candidate does have power. It’s when they are in demand, for whatever reason because of a specific degree, a prestigious program, etc… but it means they don’t have to live and die on one offer.

Keys to leverage:

  1. Understanding when you have it.

  2. Not revealing too much information.

  3. Disclosing as necessary

An HR recruiter ask how much do you currently make? “I make XYZ…” Leverage gone, you lost! Proper response “I make between 70k – 85k and I am open to negotiate”. Now if you’re too high for the rep, they may point blank tell you. Or they may make some other accommodations if the hiring manager has expressed you’re the person they want. 

  1. Example: I was making a decent salary in a good position but I was desperate for a position back in my hometown. During the interview process I expressed this to the interview panel and at some point during the interview I knew I was there guy. So mentally I was positioning myself to take a salary cut. After the interview two weeks no call, a month no call, two months later I get the call. “Ryan we really enjoyed your interview and we wanted to hire you but we thought the position of Financial Analyst I would not meet the pay requirements so we jumped through some loops and now have the position at Financial Analyst III”.

  2. A couple big takeaways: I knew a financial analyst was below my pay range but I applied anyways because I thought something like this was possible (this was the third time in my career I seen a position adjusted for me). Next, they took two months… Patience really matters. Next when you become the perfect candidate you gain some leverage, and with leverage come accommodations.

Be Bold and Confident

I was inspired to write this post after helping my wife negotiate a two dollar pay bump pretty effortless this week. She’s been off from work for about 5 months, and had very little interest in returning to her previous job. Recently, her boss texted expressing the terrible staffing issues the practice was having and how one doctor missed her, it really left a strong impression with her that she was needed.

  • Her perspective (timid and shaky): The text struck an emotional cord with her, she felt compelled to return to simply help but she also knew it would come with a ton of stress. She also didn’t feel comfortable returning with demands because of the vulnerable state of the practice.

  • My perspective (Bold and Confident): First on a personal level, I hate hearing my wife complain about anything, especially her job, with the high demands and not enough pay. Not enough pay?!? I thought to myself “He sounded pretty desperate. When I was a manager I would have never let an employee know how bad I was hurting.  We could stick his ass up for more pay if she really wanted, and it would ease the complaining from her.”

So I convinced my wife it was the right thing to do (ask for more money) and we were practically in a win-win situation. If they said yes, perfect she gets more money and it eases her tension or reluctance with going back to work. If her boss decided to say no, we were in the same position before, not desperate for the stressful job. 

My wife initially began typing out a long email and once she completed it, sent over to me. It was too lengthy and gave too much information. The email came off as scared and providing “excuses” for the raise. I chopped it down and explained when you have leverage you don’t have to spill everything, and having a confident tone is much more important. I rewrote the email, “Russ, miss you guys a ton and would love to comeback but I’m in a tough position I’ve received a soft offer from another practice for $2 dollars more, can you match?” The manager seemed peeved, he simply asked how much. I think he realized he made a mistake expressing to my wife how much he needed her.

He revealed so much because he saw my wife solely as an employee; he would never reveal so much to an equal, or a doctor in the practice. We took the perceived disadvantage of being a non-management employee with not much power and flipped it into an advantage of an employee that’s desperately needed, has a proven track record, the doctors’ love, and the manager just revealed inside information with. We made our demands, with a little finessing and my wife got the $2.50 pay bump which is much more than the typical 2% or 3% raise most people receive annually. “Bae we stuck his ass up”.