The most damaging thing you could do in a conversation about pay is to act as though nothing is happening in the economy. Another don't: making a veiled threat that your productivity will fall off if your salary isn't increased, says Ronza.
Consider negotiating for perks and benefits. Employees today are facing the momentum of a long-term trend toward reduced employer-sponsored healthcare benefits. So, even those who manage to keep their jobs in the downturn may be paying much more for coverage. If an employer is unwilling or unable to negotiate on pay—after all, some companies simply don't have the money—then it may be smart to negotiate for benefits that aren't in a paycheck. Ronza says such bargaining chips might include a four-day workweek, better healthcare benefits, or more vacation days. "You have to know your employer," he says.