Bargaining, haggling, debating, compromising – no matter how you put it, negotiation holds an important part of one’s career and is nearly unavoidable. Negotiation is a dance between parties that can be as delicate as a ballet, as fiery as the salsa, as intense as the tango or as emotional as an interpretive dance. With the countless ways negotiations may go, strong negotiating skills are an essential tool for anyone wishing to fulfill career goals. One of the most personal negotiation dances in the business world is the salary negotiation. Whether being offered a new position at a company or asking for more money or benefits in your current role, feeling well-compensated for your sacrifices, hard work and time commitments is instrumental to your sense of fulfillment in your career and to your overall well-being. I would like to offer a few suggestions on how to improve your salary negotiations skills:

Asking for a Raise or Interviewing for a New Position? – Read the Situation.

I know this subject has probably been in the back of your mind for months or even years. I cannot imagine anyone is exempt from saying, at least once in his or her life, “I don’t make enough money for this.” Such statements are often made in the heat of the moment and or may be situation-based. However, if you find yourself saying this on a regular basis, you have probably considered asking for a raise. I urge you to read the situation before you dive head first into potentially dangerous shark-infested waters. First, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the current state of the economy?
  • How is my company doing?
  • Would adding other benefits to your current salary make a difference (cell phone reimbursement, bonus options, dry-cleaning, more vacation time, transportation reimbursement, tuition reimbursement, meal credits, etc.)?
  • Are there any other positions open within the company I may be willing to pursue?
  • Are there other ways I can feel more compensated at my current salary? Such as:
    • Delegate to open up more time to dedicate yourself to what is most important in your position.
    • Completely omit certain tasks from your position.
    • Consider if a change in title would be acceptable without an increase in salary.
  • Is it time to simply open up a conversation with my manager to see if there is an opportunity to show them my value in anticipation of career advancement or a future pay raise?

Be Prepared.

Research what the salary is for your current or desired position. Be sure to account for your education and expertise and decide on two things:

  1. Your ideal salary number.
  2. The absolute lowest you are willing to accept for a base salary (not including any additional benefits you plan to negotiate on top of the base salary).

If your employer asks you for your desired salary number, the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation suggests you make a “statement that could anchor the discussion in your favor without seeming extreme. Consider saying, ‘Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve heard that people like me typically earn $80,000 to $90,000.’ “Anchor” – a reference point that may or may not be relevant to the discussion – it could very well steer the numbers toward your upper goal”

Try not to become trapped by the dollar signs in your eyes. Sit down in a quiet place with limited interruptions and ask yourself:

    • What do I truly value in life? What do I truly value in my career? How are my career and the things I value connected? What are my non-negotiables?
    • Write down the answers to these questions and consider using a scoring system to help you determine your personal priority list of what you consider most important?
    • Choose the top two or three from your list and focus on these things during the negotiation.

Collaborative negotiation strategies tend to yield the best results, wherein both parties are equally satisfied with the negotiation process. Try to remain flexible and open to further discussion, where warranted. Remember that each side of the collaborative negotiation desires fairness. They want YOU to work for them. They also know that if you are offered a fair salary package, you will actually work harder for them!

Your resume is the reason you were able to dazzle your potential employer into calling you for an interview and holds the basic information about your value to your previous companies and/or current company. Collect an array of various accomplishments not included in your resume. Provide statistics and hard numbers that validate your achievements and prove how you have been valuable to your employers throughout your career and, therefore, are deserving of your desired salary and benefits.

Remember – You are worth it! 

Negotiating is not easy. You are in one of the most vulnerable states during negotiations, especially if you are proving yourself to a new employer who has not had the pleasure of witnessing your work ethic and accomplishments first hand. Remember to recognize your own value and plan ahead on how to explain any shortcomings. Identify your vulnerabilities and be prepared to explain how you can overcome or compensate for these areas with the added value you will bring to their organization.

Try to avoid overcompensating, extremes or going in unprepared. You may seem desperate, over-confident to a point of arrogance or defensive (each typically not considered highly sought characteristics in an employee).

My final suggestion is one I try to live by both in my career and my every-day life: Be Yourself. You want to work in a place where you can be confident and comfortable. In my opinion, no amount of money is worth having an anxiety attack on your way to work each day. Negotiate for your happiness and enjoy the dance.

*If you wish to learn more about negotiations and other career-building skills, please attend the Salt Lake Chamber Business Women’s Forum Luncheons. If you enjoyed this article, visit the LinkedIn Page for the most up-to-date and relevant information posted from people like Jennifer and other members of the BWF Steering Committee. Network, share, collaborate, learn and thrive with the Salt Lake Chamber Business Women’s Forum.

Business Travel Sales Manager, Hotel Monaco

At a mere 17 years old, Jennifer began her career working in hotels. In the years following this initial step onto her career path, she has worked in various hotels in Utah and Colorado and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Tears, love, laughter and life-long friends punctuate her hospitality career, which currently positions her in Salt Lake City, parading down the halls of the Hotel Monaco. Jennifer has a natural curiosity for life and is happiest when she is surrounded by people who share her interest in discussing theories and concepts. Jennifer’s desire to do and know everything allows her to relish in many different hobbies; she can be found rocking out at a concert, fishing, swimming, reading a good book, playing her guitar or singing karaoke. Jennifer is also a fervent advocate of social responsibility and of women uplifting each other and strives daily to integrate these values into the workplace.

ABOUT THE BUSINESS WOMEN’S FORUM: The Business Women’s Forum (BWF) is a program organized by the Salt Lake Chamber where local women managers, executives and entrepreneurs meet to improve their personal development and networking skills through bi-monthly luncheons and mixers. For more information on BWF, visit