Tip #12: Give Yourself a Little Bit of Cushion | 28 Days of Salary Negotiation

If you've been following along in our series, you know that salary negotiation is more of an art than a science. That really comes into play with this tip; giving yourself some cushion - or, room to maneuver - with the first number you float to a potential employer.

A few factors come into play.

  • Do you know the salary range that the employer expects to pay for this position?
  • Are you attempting to request something over and above that range?
  • Does the employer know your current salary, and are they using it as a barometer for what their offered salary should be (they shouldn't, but sometimes do)?
  • What level of position is this? Are quality candidates for this position hard to come by? 
  • Were you heavily recruited or invited to apply for this position?

Depending on the answers to these questions, the employer may be more open to candidates pushing the boundaries on salary negotiation. 

Your cushion should be over and above the ideal salary you calculated in Tip #1. It should give you the space you need to make a concession or two to the employer during the negotiation (not necessarily right away!), and allow you to still land in a salary position you are happy with. As this is not a science, it's difficult to give an exact dollar figure or percent above your ideal salary to go out with. It's really more related to your negotiation skills and your unique position as it pertains to the factors (and others) outlined above than it is to a hard and fast range. 

Keep in mind, if your ideal salary plus a reasonably calculated cushion is bumping you outside the range for any position you would otherwise be qualified for--or employers are consistently balking at your request--you probably need more experience, more hard skills, or perhaps to find a new industry.