Negotiation is meant to provide a solution when two parties (the employer and employee) have different ideas as to what is appropriate compensation for the services to be provided. Remember first that straight salary or hourly pay is not the sum total of a company's compensation program. You need to look at the entire picture.
Think outside of the box. For example, if an employer states that employment reviews take place one year after hire, but you feel that you will make a dramatic impact early, negotiate for that early review.
I recently assisted an IT director during the negotiation process. The company in question had clearly stated salary guidelines below his desired monetary compensation. However, the company also was ready to implement a popular and comprehensive solution.
The company needed his skills. As it got closer to the point of the deal, the employer offered the top end of its salary range. The company conceded that it was below what he desired but expressed that it would provide an opportunity for bonuses and a raise after the first year.
My client liked what he saw at the company but did not want to concede the salary. He felt it would set a precedent that would be difficult to overcome.
My suggestion: I told him to offer to take the company's stated salary but negotiate for a shorter review cycle. In fact, instead of a year, I counseled him to push for a three-month and then six-month review.
When presented with his offer, the company returned with another compensation plan. The company offered him a salary that actually met his minimum requirement but pushed the initial review out to six months.
Reviews are an administrative hassle, and I was confident the employer would counter with something else. As it worked out, my client got both his desired salary and the opportunity to be reviewed and get a raise in a shorter period than the standard year.