Salary Negotiation: How to Avoid Divulging Your Current Salary

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Although I recognize that some employers and employees take advantage of each other, I’m passionate about fair pay for fair work. In the case of fair pay, the negotiating advantage usually goes to businesses, because they routinely have access to knowledge that employees don’t such as (1) what others in the organization are paid for similar work and (2) industry compensation data. Hence, it’s no surprise that many of my career coaching clients are anxious and frustrated by the thought of negotiating a salary with a new employer. They dread the thought of being asked what they currently make, believing their current salary shouldn’t have any bearing on what the new employer offers and unsure how to handle that question.

Although company culture, benefits, career advancement, commute, working from home options, and other attributes factor into a decision to join a new company, most employers try to offer prospects just enough pay increase to entice them to resign and work for them. Over the years, the workforce has come to expect offers that are 10-15% more than what a candidate currently makes regardless of whether he is underpaid for his given responsibilities and performance.

During the hiring process, prospective employers are keen to understand the current salary of job applicants in order to shape their offers. Although I understand businesses are driven to minimize labor costs, I believe it’s short-sighted to underpay candidates, who may take the job out of necessity and still feel taken advantage of.  For candidates who don’t want to divulge their salary, there are conversation strategies that can help.

Salary Expectation Conversation

Employer: “What salary are you expecting for this job?”

Candidate: “I’m only expecting to be competitively paid for the job responsibilities? What range have you earmarked for this position?”

Employer: “We have some flexibility for the right candidate. What do you make today?’

Candidate: “I’m seriously interested in the position and glad to hear you have flexibility. I don’t have access to the most recent competitive salaries like you do, so what range are you prepared to offer for the right candidate?”

Or how about ….

Salary Offer Conversation

Employer: “How much are you currently making?”

Candidate: “I’m curious. Why do you need this information?”

Employer: “We need the information, so we can make you a job offer?”

Candidate: “I’m confused how my current salary is relevant to the compensation for this job? I’d welcome an offer. What are you be willing to pay for the job responsibilities and performance criteria we discussed?”

You’ll notice in both scenarios that the candidate answered each question with a question. These two conversations can be difficult for candidates, who don’t believe they hold power in the negotiation. Don’t be fooled. Businesses are desperate for good talent. If you know you are a performer, you hold more power at the negotiating table than you might think.

If you’d like to strategize on a salary negotiation for a new position or more pay for additional responsibilities at your current company, let’s schedule a coaching session. You can reach out to me at 281.793.3741 or

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at

Sales Negotiation: Set Yourself Up for Success

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The 80/20 rules applies to many situations and negotiation may be no exception. Sales negotiation can be thought of as a three-step process: (1) preparation, (2) engagement, and (3) deal agreement. Some people may say that 80% of negotiation success is in the preparation, which may or may not be overstated. However, it does beg the question: what are you doing to set yourself for success before going into a negotiation?

Key Negotiation Prep Factors

Although the objective of a negotiation should be to reach a win-win, it pays to be smart, and smart usually means being prepared. In my business tenure, I’ve negotiated long-term deals that were worth hundreds of millions of dollars, so I know a few things about negotiating, including some learned the hard way—through the experience of trial and error. I do believe success is heavily influenced by the degree of preparation and a few of my favorite preps include:

  1. Be prepared to walk away. The only way that most negotiators are prepared to walk away is if they know their drop-dead minimum and why it’s their drop-dead. Is it margin, risk, or some other variable? What’s the alternative value of the resources or asset utilization? Many people think they have a minimum position, but when the negotiating gets intense, the minimum usually moves to a lower position. When negotiators have thoroughly thought out their position, the minimum doesn’t move, and it becomes easier to confidently walk away.
  2. Brainstorm things to offer and concede. When entering into a negotiation, people aren’t necessarily wanting the same thing nor assigning the same priority to certain items. Knowing that a negotiation will likely mean trading off and giving positions to the other party, a savvy negotiator will make a list of things to ask for that can easily be conceded, because they don’t hold much value.
  3. Position yourself so you don’t make the first offer. The party that makes the first offer takes on more risk of leaving value on the table. Is the first offer significantly below what the other party was willing to pay? On the other hand, if the first offerer asks for too much, he could position himself out of the negotiation. Always think of a strategy and questions to ask that will get the other party to make the first offer. If asked to make the first offer, an experienced negotiator will answer with a question that puts the other into a position of offering first.

Many people are at least slightly intimidated by the negotiating process. What many don’t realize is they are negotiating daily with their coworkers, boss, family, friends, and kids. Any time you got your way, you negotiated. Negotiation is a skill and just like a muscle can be strengthened when intentionally exercised.

About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at or by visiting her website at