How can I successfully negotiate my salary?

The fundamentals of a successful salary negotiation are a realistic estimation, reflection on your own position, and careful preparation. What are your abilities, what tasks do you perform, and what value do you add to the company? Will you take on more tasks and responsibilities in the future? Your performance is always at the core of salary negotiations, and the goal is a win-win situation: Any increase in salary must also be worthwhile for your boss and the company.


Knowing your value to the company is decisive if you want a good negotiating position. Conversations with your Michael Page consultant and colleagues in the industry are also helpful. You also need to know your employer's economic situation. What is the situation in the industry, and are new employees currently being hired or are cutbacks being made? Another decisive factor is a realistic salary requirement. Consider the following:
  • How much you need to live
  • The acceptable minimum salary
  • The desired salary
In order to leave a little wiggle room in the negotiation, start the salary negotiation with the upper end of your salary requirement. In addition to your monthly salary, be sure to consider the basic conditions. Is a company car or company mobile phone of interest to you? Do you want more flexible work times, paid further education or more holiday time?

Seven avoidable mistakes

Those who want a successful salary negotiation should avoid the following mistakes:
  1. False arguments: No employer is interested in altered living circumstances. When negotiating for a higher salary, the relevant question is what you contribute to the company's success.
  2. A lack of preparation: Without plausible arguments, the salary increase will not be a success. The right preparation includes looking for arguments that make clear your performance and value. What projects have you completed, where did you give more than was expected of you, where did you take on more responsibility?
  3. Not knowing your goal: Your interlocutor will ask you for your salary requirement, and the conversation builds upon that information. Knowing your desired salary is therefore imperative.
  4. Unrealistic demands: The first offer should be set higher than the salary you actually want, but utopian amounts make you seen unbelievable and unpleasant.
  5. Demands that are too low: The salary negotiation is a difficult yet important conversation, especially during job interviews. The HR manager making the decision wants to know if you can correctly estimate your own value to the company and if you believe in your own abilities. Employers are looking for a competent new employee, not a cheap one.
  6. Bad timing: Negotiating is not good in economically bad times. Equally inappropriate are company excursions and parties.
  7. Arguments based on extortion: Blackmailing the boss with threats does not work. The HR manager also knows you can change employers. If your abilities are valuable to the company, your salary negotiation will also be a success.
Be a hard but fair negotiation partner. Self-confidence in your salary negotiation shows your employer that you transfer your conviction to your work and are thus an important part of the company.