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Salary Negotiation

Handing someone a paycheck

Before you start talking pay or negotiating salary with a prospective employer, you need to find out how much the job (and you) are worth. You will need to take the time to research salaries so you are prepared to get what you’re worth and a job offer that’s realistic and reasonable.

Once you know what you should be earning, how do you go about getting it? Start by being very patient. When interviewing for a new position, do your best not to bring up compensation until the employer makes you an offer. If you’re asked what your salary requirements are, say that they are open based upon the position and the overall compensation package. Or tell the employer you would like to know more about the responsibilities and the challenges of the job prior to discussing salary. Another option is to give the employer a salary range based upon the salary research you’ve done up front. Once you’ve received the offer you don’t need to accept (or reject) it right away. Sometimes just delaying your response, within a reasonable period of time, can get you an increase in the original offer. Most offers include an expiration or respond by date. It is essential to respond to the offer within this timeframe.

If you’re ambivalent about the position, a “no” can bring you a better offer too. However, be careful. If you do definitely need that new job, there’s a risk that the employer may accept your declining the position and move on to the next candidate.

Salary Negotiation Do's & Don'ts

Most people wouldn’t put salary negotiation high on their lists of desirable activities. Even though you may prefer getting a root canal to negotiating your salary, if you want to get paid what you’re worth, you better learn how to do it right. These dos and don’ts of salary negotiation can help you get the salary you deserve, whether you’re entertaining a job offer or asking for a raise.

  • Do research salaries in your field: Look at recent salary surveys, talk to others working in your field, and contact your trade or professional association to find out what other people are paid for doing the same work. Remember that salaries differ by geographic region.
  • Don't look at how much money your friends in other fields are making: You may be envious of your friends who are earning more money than you are, but you shouldn’t make those comparisons.
  • Do consider how much experience you have: Those with more experience can hope to earn more money. Remember to talk about the amount of experience you have if it will help you negotiate a higher salary. If you don’t have a lot of experience, be realistic about the salary for which you can ask.
  • Don't talk about how much money you need: When you are going through salary negotiations, don’t tell your boss (or future boss) that you need to make more money because your bills are high, your house was expensive, or your child is starting college.
  • Do talk about the salary you deserve: When presenting your case during a salary negotiation, talk about how you will earn the salary you are requesting. Highlight what you have done, or will do, for the company. Also, discuss the salaries in your field (based on your research).
  • Do be flexible: When going through a salary negotiation, you aren’t likely to get the exact amount of money you want. You will probably have to compromise. The trick is to figure out how much you are willing to compromise and what you will do if your boss doesn’t offer you a salary you find acceptable.

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