Negotiating Salary by Phone – 1


A salary negotiation is both easy and hard.
The good news is that your opponent only has two tactics.
If you can defend against these two tactics, you win.

The bad news is that your opponent is a master at deploying these tactics.
In order to win, you must be prepared to counter them.

Tactic#1: They try to figure out what cards you’re holding.

What other job options do you have?
What’s the minimum salary you’ll accept?
What’s your current salary?
How long have you been looking for work?
How badly do you need the job?


Tactic#2: They try to make you believe things that aren’t completely true:

Your new salary should be similar to your old salary.
There is a strict deadline to accept their offer.
No part of the compensation package is negotiable.
It’s okay to accept a lower salary now because it will be higher in the future.
Your new salary isn’t negotiable.

The script below shows you how resist these two tactics while maintaining a posture of gratitude and respect.


Salary Script

Scene 1: Your House

[Your phone rings and you answer it.]

You: Good evening. I’ve been expecting you.

[You immediately stand up and take the rest of the call on your feet because you know it elevates blood serum testosterone levels, making you sound more confident.]

HR Rep: Good evening, I’m calling with excellent news. We are going to make you an offer to join our firm. But first, I just need to ask you one question: How much salary do you need?

You: Thank you for this incredible news! Everyone I’ve met at your firm has been so helpful and I am thrilled by the opportunity to join you!! Regarding salary, I’m definitely not looking for millions of dollars or anything like that. I’m just hoping to earn a fair market amount for the work I do.

HR Rep: Well how much salary do you think is fair?

You: That’s a great question. For me, it’s about more than just salary, I’d want to look at the offer as a whole. I’d want to think about things like benefits / retirement plans / bonuses / equity allocation / relocation allowance / etc. I guess I’d want to consider the entire package if that makes sense. Do you have any details you can share about the these things?

HR Rep: Well we do have great benefits at our firm and we’ll definitely review those later, but for now let’s talk about salary. What are your salary requirements? What is your expected salary?

You: Sure, I’d be happy to share my salary expectations. I’ve always worked diligently to be a top performer, so I guess I’d expect to be somewhere in the upper end of your range for new hires. What is the typical range for new hires in this role?

HR Rep: That’s a good point and a fair question. Unfortunately, we don’t use ranges. Every position at our firm is as unique as a newly formed snowflake…and so is the associated compensation. To make this easier, perhaps you might tell me what an acceptable range would be for you.

You: Sure thing. Without knowing all the vagaries of the local market, I would say that if we assumed the fair market range for someone with experience was somewhere between 90 and 130, I would want to be closer to the upper end of that range…which is 130 in this hypothetical.

HR Rep: Yikes!

[The sound of coffee being spit out is heard]

HR Rep:Hold on a second please, I just fell out of my chair. Do give me a minute to get back on my feet.

[The HR Rep coughs into the phone a couple of times while rummaging through drawers. A pill bottle is heard opening. A water glass is filled.]

HR Rep: Ok, thank you, I apologize. I am ready to respond. Ahem. Wow! That number is way too high for us!!

You: Yes, it’s tricky to identify a fair market range since the market for engineers with my background varies by industry, location, responsibility, and firm. I’ve seen data-points all over the map. Perhaps you can tell me how much salary you’ve got budgeted for this role?

HR Rep: That’s a good question and…I have to say…I admit it… you are better than I am.

[The HR Rep smiles eerily into the phone. You detect the slight change in pitch and timbre of his voice, indicative of such a smile]

You: Then why are you smiling?

HR Rep: Because I know something that you do not.

You: And what is that?

HR Rep: I am not left-handed.

[The HR rep switches the phone from his left hand to his right hand and continues speaking]

Continue to: Negotiating Your Salary By Phone (Part 2)



Hi, I’m David Larson.
I will help you negotiate a higher salary.

Contact David