How To Negotiate Your Salary On This Side Of The Great Resignation

Posted August 22, 2022 by Mark Perna

Salary negotiation during a recession is still a thing—but you may need to rethink exactly what you’re negotiating for. Mark’s article, “How To Negotiate Your Salary On This Side Of The Great Resignation,” published at on August 16, 2022.

Nothing can put a damper on an employee-driven job market like a looming recession. The Great Resignation has already seen more than 40 million Americans quit their jobs, but now there’s an economic downturn in the offing—and no one knows how it’s going to play out.

All the sudden, job seekers may find that offers are getting thinner on the ground—and aren’t as enticing as they were just a few short months ago. So how does this play out if you’ve got an offer on the table? Is salary negotiation still smart in a time when jobs are not as plentiful as before?

Salary negotiation during a recession is absolutely still a thing—but you may need to rethink exactly what you’re negotiating for. “Trust me, we expect you to negotiate, even in a recession,” says Cara Brennan Allamano, Chief People Officer at Lattice. “But instead of just negotiating salary, you can negotiate for opportunity—and the latter can have a much bigger payoff in the long run.”

Negotiate for opportunity

In light of the massive market shifts over the past few years and the potential challenges ahead, we need to rethink salary negotiation. These days, it’s about so more than just the money.

Allamano says you should start with knowing what you want out of the role you’re negotiating for. “Ask yourself: How does this role fit into your career goals? What specifically do you want to accomplish with your next step?”

This line of thinking, says Allamano, will help you broaden your negotiation tactics up front and get you in the headspace to look beyond the hard numbers. “Negotiate for opportunity, not just money,” she says.

This means opening a conversation around what stretch project work, growth opportunities or other learning experience the company is willing to commit to as part of your role. “Ask what kind of exposure you will have to other parts of the business, or whether you will have access to mentorship by senior leaders on your team or elsewhere in the organization,” urges Allamano. “All of these factors have been demonstrated to accelerate career progression, lead to faster promotions and ultimately increase your base salary, too.”

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If you’re still having trouble seeing beyond just the numbers, try these questions on for size:

  • What do you want your future resume to look like?
  • What is your dream job title in 5 years?
  • What opportunities and locations do you want your career journey to take you to?


“Crafting and ultimately selecting the next role that will take you closer to these is the first step in getting the outcomes you want for yourself,” says Allamano.

5 negotiation strategies

Of course, the number on your paycheck still matters. Here’s what to do when that offer comes in and you want to push things just a little further.

  • Build a personal priority list: Allamano advises job seekers to build out a priority list for themselves in advance. “Are you willing to budge on salary if the stock options, profit sharing or other longer-term incentives are right? Would you consider a pay cut (like a third of recent job switchers have) if it meant greater work-life balance or the chance to work in any city you choose?”
  • Remember the total package: It’s important to consider the full scope of compensation, or what people industry professionals call ‘total rewards’—your overall benefits package, paid time off, flexibility, and other perks. “Make sure when you’re putting a number forward, you’re referencing those other pieces of the overall package as well in your consideration,” says Allamano.
  • Consider asking for non-cash perks: Even in a tougher economy, non-cash offerings could be on the table for strong candidates, Allamano says. “Many companies have expanded those offerings in new ways as the pandemic highlighted how employee expectations have evolved around things like mental health and family leave.” A healthy work-life balance is a critical part of your long-term success.
  • Never look at negotiation as a one-way street: Instead, says Allamano, always lead with the value you can provide the company and then look at the negotiation as a two-way partnership. “What can you give to the company in return to get what will be most valuable for your career progression? The most important thing is to ensure you’ve communicated your value and feel comfortable with—and bought into—what this company can offer you beyond the bottom line.”
  • Don’t get discouraged: If an offer comes in below what you were hoping for, don’t let it get you down. Instead, look at the big picture before you make your decision. “The best job in this environment may be about growth and skills acquisition—because that will get you ready for the next economic boom to make your play,” Allamano says.
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When to walk away

Though it’s tempting to hold out for the highest bidder, this strategy can backfire. Often, says Allamano, it ends with candidates landing at a flashier ‘brand name’ employer that just happened to have the resources to meet the salary they were looking for.

“Don’t get me wrong, some of these giants are great places to work—but others come with cultural baggage and aren’t worth it,” she advises. “And more importantly, some may not be able to offer you tangible growth opportunities alongside the shiny salary.”

Another reason to leave an offer on the table might be the company’s track record in dealing with sea changes. “Ask how they navigated the start of the pandemic, as that could signal how they’ll approach an economic downturn, too,” Allamano says. “Look for things they may have pulled back on, and where they redirected resources, for a sense of what they truly prioritize.

“If the company can’t or won’t provide satisfactory answers to the above lines of questioning, it may be in your best interest to walk away.”

Play the long game

Although getting a new job is the quickest way to achieve a significant pay raise, there’s a long game that goes beyond just the paycheck. And it may be worth playing.

Some employees are experiencing resignation regret after jumping too quickly into new roles, even “boomeranging” back to their previous employers. Before quitting your current role, Allamano believes a little reflection is in order. “I would suggest using this moment of uncertainty, as tough as it is, to think more deliberately about your next move and really look before you leap,” she says.

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“And even if it can be tempting to take the most lucrative offer, there are other factors—from culture to learning opportunities—that can mean as much if not more to your future success and continued growth.”

That’s one reason why salary negotiation should be broadened to mean simply negotiation—because salary isn’t everything, and negotiation shouldn’t happen only during the hiring process. Existing employees should be able to open negotiations with the employer as well.

Maybe your current employer can offer learning stipends, additional vacation days or some other non-cash perk that could be exciting to you and align with your career path. “Be open to hearing value propositions that speak to you, even if they look different from things you’ve valued in the past,” says Allamano. “You may be surprised by what your employer is willing to do to keep you happy and engaged.”

Whatever your next career move, keep the long game in view. When it comes to negotiation, it’s not just about the money—it’s the long-term growth, personal satisfaction and work-life balance that make your career one that you actually enjoy.

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About The Author
Mark Perna
Mark C. Perna is an international speaker and bestselling author. He also serves as CEO of TFS Results, a strategic consulting firm at the forefront of the national paradigm shift in education and workforce development.
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