Career Corner: When Negotiating Your Salary, Be Machiavellian

Salary Negotiations.

If you have been performing well at your job for a long time, you no doubt would like an opportunity for advancement. Maybe a role promotion, or even just a raise. But the thought of having that conversation with your boss is awkward and a source of anxiety.

Per book author Stacey Vanek Smith in an interview for the Wall Street Journal, there is some salient job advice to be taken from the 16th century diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli.

The term “Machiavellian” often has a negative connotation of being willing to get what you want by any means necessary. But Smith argues the infamous Italian may have been onto something.

Smith says you obviously shouldn’t become Machiavellian to the extreme of being cutthroat, but you should analyze all aspects of a situation and figure out how to use them to your advantage.

For instance, your ability to successfully negotiate that raise may depend on how unique your skillset is.

Do you work in a field where your role is in high demand? Objectively analyze whether the worth of your skills makes you a valuable commodity, or easy to replace.

The author also says that now is a great time for negotiations due to widespread labor shortages. Previously, employers held so much more power than employees. But now with the scales tipping more evenly, there might not be a dozen other qualified candidates in line behind you.

Employers need to be more willing to make concessions to hire or retain quality workers. If you realize your salary is lower than a newer employee in the same role, now might be a good opportunity to address that disparity with your boss.

Ultimately, being Machiavellian in this context means recognizing how much power you have, and strategizing based on that. Don’t start letting your power go to your head and issuing ultimatums, but recognize your worth and seek out opportunities to advocate for your value.

For more advice on how to handle job negotiations, read the Wall Street Journal’s piece by clicking here.


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