Salary Negotiation Tips: Your Competitive Market Value

This week’s question — Do I sound desperate if I say I’m willing to take a pay cut?

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Q: Do I sound desperate if I say I’m willing to take a pay cut?

A: The way it’s written above, it does sound a little desperate. It sounds as if you haven’t let the employer have a chance to match your salary goal — you’re already giving in before you get into negotiations. If you follow salary negotiation rule #1 (postpone salary talk until there’s an offer) and rule #2 (letting them go first), then you’re in a position to negotiate even if you’re willing to take a cut.

It could be you’re too far apart when negotiating, so if you’re willing to take a cut, avoid using that exact term. Instead, use the phrase competitive market value: “Due to changes in the market and changes in the competitive wages, it may be necessary for me to calculate that my competitive market value is less than what it was at a previous job. If the market value is something different, I’m not going to argue for something impractical, so we should be able to reach a deal.”

Use “willing to accept a fair market value” not “willing to take a pay cut.” You could also say, “I think I’m over market value because I deliver better-than-average results. Over the long term I’m sure that no matter where I start, I can produce enough value to get the compensation that I want.”