“Information is a negotiator’s greatest weapon.”


Author of Going for It

As a shrewd job-seeker, you shouldn’t touch the salary subject till the moment you’re cock sure that you’re ‘need’ of the company. And let the company talk about it first. The more indifferent you look about salary, the more powerful you’ll be. Your main thrust so far should be to be liked and needed. The rest will take care of itself. The moment you show the salary your weakness, you’ll lose the bargaining power. So you should patiently wait for that moment when the company takes initiative to talk about the subject.

The basic principle applies here is that you get what you’re worth of. The important point is who will decide your worth. You or the company? If you’re not worthy in your own eyes, how can you be worthy in someone else’s eyes.

Your worth lies in your brand. How you’ve projected yourself or how the company has perceived you will determine your price tag. Take the example of Red Bull. A small can sells for Rs.125. Does it make you climb Mount Everest? Does it make you win Olympics? How much energy you get after drinking it or you get at all? Red Bull has positioned itself as Energy Drink. I’ve seen people walking with drooping shoulders after having taken packs of Red Bull and I see people sprinting after taking glasses of yeasty native drinks.

D.A. Benton author of How to Think Like a CEO says, “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” And you negotiate on what you’re worthy of.

Ace of the negotiators

In the negotiation process, the person who has the power to ‘walk out’ controls the levers. That’s why I’m stressing again and again on my blog that you should conduct yourself in such a manner that you’re perceived as an inevitable or indispensable for the company. Once you’ve positioned yourself as inevitable candidate, then you can have the power to walk out.

The 6 myths of salary negotiation

Before I march ahead, let me take the help of Neil Yeager author of CareerMap to describe myths of salary negotiation and the realities.

Myth # 1:         It’s rude and unwise to ask for too much money.

Asking for what you’re worth is neither rude nor unwise. The unwise is to undersell yourself. Once you’re clear that you’re the one company was eagerly looking for, and then make your best pitch. Charge the premium. Don’t give any discounts.

Myth # 2:         You could blow the offer if you push too hard.

Many people are prevented from being hard-nosed salary negotiators by the fear that if they come on too strong, the other part will lose interest. This is simply not the case. The only way the employer will walk out is that if you ask for a figure that’s ridiculously too high or too low. That will convince the employer that you’re a mismatch for the job. Knowing the range of possibilities beforehand can rectify this problem.

Myth # 3:         Their first offer is usually their best offer.

Unless you’re dealing with a government job that has a specific figure engraved on stone, there’s always a room for negotiation.

Myth # 4:         There’re fixed budgets for the salary.

Yes, the salaries are budgeted items, but who knows the upper limit of budgets. I’ve negotiated salaries with new staff and people on same ranks differed from Rs.50,000—Rs.75,000 a month. So there’s a large ‘play’ in the lower and upper circuits. I recommend asking a minimum 55 % more than the company initially offers you.  In negotiation, you’ll surely land somewhere near 35% more.

Myth # 5:         When changing fields, you can’t expect much money.

Being new to the field and being novice are two different things. You should use being new to the field to your advantage that you’ll bring new ideas and new approach to the organization. You can project yourself as ‘out-of-the-box’ man.

Myth # 6:         It’s easier to ask for a raise once you’ve proven yourself than to go for a high initial salary.

Absurd! The best time to get a raise is before you start the job. Once you’re on-board, then many more factors like office politics, leg-pulling, inter-office rivalry, budgets and approvals come into play instead of your job performance. The new comer is like a new wife or new girl friend who gets more love (premium) than the old one.


  • Tamour

    MR. Ashraf please clear me one thing that if you are already underpaid and you are going for a new job how can you justify the difference between what you ARE asking and what you WERE getting?

    • Ashraf Chaudhry

      Companies are not bothered about your pay. They pay you according to your worth and value addition. Your only job is to convince the hiring team about your value addition. Price will follow. I know people who were hired on double salary or even more than they were getting from previous employer. Thanks for the comments.

  • Adeel

    Your advice on what to do if the company starts the salary discussion on the first interview (for shortlisting candidates according to their budget)? Should we stall or move into the negotiation phase?

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