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4 Key Psychological Tips That Can Help Negotiate A Higher Salary
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4 Key Psychological Tips That Can Help Negotiate A Higher Salary

There's more to landing a new job than just your resume or interview - though the huge number of articles and websites on the Internet offering resume tips and interview advice would like you to believe otherwise. Think about it for a bit - why you do you want the job? Fancy office and titles aside, the most important thing most of us get from our jobs is the salary. And yet, we stumble and fumble around when it comes to salary negotiations.

An early study of MBA graduates found that just being prepared to negotiate helped the graduates land better starting salaries. The impact of every salary increase early in your career has a cascading effect over a lifetime. This study found that an earning gap of $1400-$2600 annually during the early years adds up to about $230,000 over a lifetime. Though this study focused on American workers and their appearance, the numbers should be motivation enough for anyone, anywhere to proactively negotiate their salary. Who in their right mind give up a shot at an extra 6-figure in earnings in exchange for learning how to negotiate a better salary?

So, let's get to it. After over a decade of experience on both sides of the interview table seeing otherwise qualified candidates mess up salary negotiations, here's my top list of psychology tips you can use y.

1. Never quote the first number

If there were only one rule I want you to remember, this is it. Often recruiters or HR ask for a salary figure or range early on in the conversation. That's a quick way to screen you. But if you're a top performer, by giving a number early on you're throwing away your leverage. When you give the first number, you lose. Always. If your number is lower than the salary range they have budgeted, you've lost money without knowing it. If the number you propose is higher than their budget, the interviewer will tell you're unaffordable, and again, you've just lost money.

Instead, stall. Talk about the job requirements and expectations first. Penelope Trunk has some great responses that you can practise to avoid giving the first number.

2. Find out what the job is worth

The interview or the job is not about you. It's about the company. It's about how much can you help them grow. Before and during the interview ask around to find out how badly they need this position filled and what's the impact on the revenues. If all else fails you can try a direct approach "Can you tell me what this position is worth to your company. That's important information for me to know". If your work there is not going to have much of an impact on the company's revenues, you're dispensable. Your chances of growth and salary increments are low. On the other hand, if the position is closer to revenues, you can ask for more and will have a better chance of getting it.

3. Set the anchor high

The Anchor Effect refers to the human tendency to rely heavily on the first piece of information we get during decision making. The first bit of information or number, even if not directly related to the discussion at hand, tends to bias decision making. That's why car salesmen or jewellers will often show you a much higher priced product first, no matter what your budget is. They're anchoring you - towards a higher price.

How to use anchoring in an interview? Early on in the discussion, casually mention someone you know recently got a similar position at some rival company for 1.5x the salary you really want. This serves as a very subtle hint of the range you're expecting; and even if the interviewer recognizes it as anchoring, they will be unable to avoid it. Studies show that once the anchor is thrown, people find it very difficult to compensate for it and avoid its impact, even if they are aware of it. Use this bit early on during a casual conversation. If you wait till the final salary negotiations, it's already too late.

4. Use a precise number

The anchoring we mentioned above influences not just the starting value, but also the scale. When you do get to the stage where you have all the information you need and can no longer put off giving a number, quote a precise number , rather than a ballpark figure. When given a precise number, the human tendency is to not deviate too much from it. But when given a rough, ballpark number, they will adjust it to a larger extent. So instead of asking for Rs 20, 00,000 ask for Rs 20, 40,500. When you ask for Rs 20, 00,000, chances are they will scale it back and offer you Rs 19, 00,000, whereas if you ask for Rs 20, 40,500 most likely, they will only push back to Rs 20, 00,000 .

A lot of this can seem counter-intuitive at first. After all, it's not the run-of-the-mill career advice on every other website. These are deep psychological tactics based on studies of human behaviour - cognitive biases that are impossible to resist, even if you're aware of them. Try them out in practise sessions with your friends. Practice until you internalise them and are comfortable thinking in this manner. Some of this might seem awkward at first. But at the end of the day, if it helps you land a better pay check, and I'd say its well worth it.

Image: indiatimes

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