15 surprising tricks which may boost your salary

Screen Shot 2015 07 17 at 2.50.11 PMYou can do better.

Whether you’re asking for a raise or negotiating your salary at a new job, one thing stays consistent: it’s nerve-racking.

But it’s also necessary. An analysis by Salary.com suggests that not negotiating could potentially cost you more than a million dollars over the course of your career. Not that knowing that makes it any easier.

We combed through research to collect some of the simplest — and most surprising — strategies that help lead you to what you want.

Max Nisen contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Always use precise numbers in offers and counter-offers.

Throwing out your target salary as $US103,500 seems a little bit silly -- doesn't $US100,000 tell pretty much the same story? -- but research from Columbia Business School suggests that using precise numbers makes a more powerful anchor in negotiations.

According to Malia Mason, the author of the study, kicking off a negotiation with exact-sounding numbers leads the other party to think that you've done research to arrive at those particular digits -- and that, in turn, makes them think you're likely correct.


...It's better to suggest a salary range rather than a single number.

Using precise numbers doesn't mean using single precise numbers. In a separate study, Mason and her Columbia Business School colleague Daniel Ames found that presenting a salary range -- including and above your desired target -- is the best way to get results.

In the past, organizational psychologists thought a range would work against you -- wouldn't people just fixate on the lower number? -- but Ames and Mason found that's not the case.

Presenting a range works for two reasons, they say: It gives your boss information about what you're actually asking for, and it makes you seem polite and reasonable -- which means you're less likely to get hit with a hard-line counteroffer.

Open with something personal, and your negotiating partner will respond in kind.

In an experiment where Kellogg and Stanford students negotiated by email, those who shared unrelated personal details over the course of the negotiation -- hobbies, hometowns, etc. -- ended up getting significantly better results than those who kept things to name, email, and the dry monetary details.

Opening up a bit sends a signal that you're trustworthy, according to Wharton professor Adam Grant in a LinkedIn post, and makes it more likely that they will reciprocate.

Think of the negotiation as a competition.

In most salary negotiations, you're going after something that the other party doesn't particularly want to give you. That makes it a competition, and viewing it such leads to better results, according to research from George Mason Professor Michelle Marks and Temple Professor Crystal Harold.

The team looked at five different negotiation strategies: accommodating, avoiding, collaborating, competing, and compromising. And -- spoiler alert -- compromising was not the best strategy.

Instead, Marks and Harold found that people who use competitive or collaborative strategies -- employing 'open discussion of issues and perspectives' -- ended up with higher salaries than those who were 'accommodating' or 'compromising.'

If you're meeting in person, make steady eye contact.

Not every negotiator resorts to deception. But it's often in their interest to hide how excited they about a candidate -- and how willing they might actually be to bump up their offer.

According to a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the most effective ways to keep people honest is to make steady eye contact.

Put any concerns you have on the table all at once.

When getting an offer, many people want to seem happy, and avoid looking too needy or disappointed. They might bring up a concern or two, but gloss over other issues that -- inevitably -- end up coming up later.

That drives hiring managers crazy, according to Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra. The best strategy is to reveal all of your concerns at once, and note which ones are most important, so you can work through them together.

Make the first offer.

Conventional wisdom is that you should wait for the other party to make the initial offer in order to get more information to act on. The problem with that thinking, though, says Wharton professor Adam Grant in a LinkedIn post, is that it's wrong.

In reality, it's much better to make the first offer because you get to set the 'anchor,' the figure that affects the trajectory of the negotiation. People who make very high first offers end up with a much better result.

The first offer pulls the other person in its direction, and it's difficult to adjust the other way.

Be a little unpredictable.

The default for negotiations is a relatively level and less emotional approach, an attempt to be as rational as possible. But injecting some passion and unpredictability can create an advantage.

A study from Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky found that emotional inconsistency from negotiators leads to greater concessions from the other party because they feel less in control of the situation.

Expressing anger, alternating between anger and happiness, and alternating between anger and disappointment all yielded bigger concessions.

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