An estimated one out of five job seekers doesn't bother negotiating offered salaries. That means 20 percent of today's workforce is leaving money on the table the moment they're hired. Use these tips to fight back and show the hiring manangers you know your true worth.

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Not long ago, the idea of negotiating with hiring managers for the most competitive salary that fits your experience would have seemed like an impossible luxury. In the darker Great Recession days, just holding onto any employment, even at a reduced salary, may have been the difference between keeping your house or moving back in with your parents (shudder).

But that was then. Today, with tech work booming again in Seattle and companies having trouble filling the skilled positions to support their expansion plans, job seekers can exercise those salary negotiation muscles that have atrophied over the last five or six years.

Here are three tactics to make sure you won’t be leaving money on the table the next time you consider taking a job offer.

Never offer a salary first. This is a cardinal rule to live by: Make sure that they, the employers, come up with an offered salary first. Many companies rely on the job seeker’s common misconception that they have to be polite and nice at all times in order to be considered. But in reality, this is when the job candidate has a lot more power. At this point, when the salary is finally brought up, the company obviously wants you there, and it also is going to try to get you for the best price. And since the executives there are not likely to tip their hand and let you know how much is budgeted, putting the ball it their court is not just a bold move, it’s a leveler of the playing field.

Always choose the high end. Of course, many employers today are catching wind of this tactic and demanding that job candidates report their “salary requirements” before they will even be considered. Still, it’s best to stand your ground and say something like “negotiable,” or “competitive,” or, perhaps in the cover letter, one could write, “I would prefer to see more about the job function before I could give a hard figure.” If they do end up pressing you for at least a range, always go for the high end of what the market will bear. If you go too low, you’re making it easier for the hiring manager to lowball you.

At least try a counteroffer. Jim Hopkinson, a marketing director for Conde Nast Digital, wrote in his self-help guide to negotiating, called “Salary Tutor,” estimated that only one out of every five people ever bothers trying to negotiate the salaries offered to them. Do some research on your field, find out what the high-end scale of the position usually commands and use it as a counteroffer. The better hiring managers won’t just tolerate a counteroffer, they will expect it from candidates who take their careers seriously.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at