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Salary Negotiation - A Tricky Business


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Whether you live to work or work to live, there comes a point in your job search when you are going to have to talk money, and as much as we either love or need the stuff, this is a conversation that few of us look forward to. If we settle for too little, we are likely to spend the next few years kicking ourselves, and perhaps even feeling resentful towards our employer. If we ask for too much, we risk losing the job offer. A careful balancing act is called for…and nerves of steel.

The first question to consider when it comes to salary negotiation is when to have the conversation, and it is crucial to remember here that employers DO use both salary expectations and current earnings to sift candidates in and out. Show your hand too early and you might never even have the chance to reach the negotiation stage. The other thing to bear in mind is that until such time as you have been interviewed and had the opportunity to find out precisely what the position involves, you cannot possibly know what it is worth. Never include a salary expectation or indicate your current or past salaries in your resume or on an application form, never discuss remuneration at a first interview and always leave it to the employer to raise the subject at all. The time to talk money is only after you have received a job offer. Before this point, all of your efforts should be on impressing the recruiter with your skills, accomplishments and enthusiasm. When you know for certain that the company wants to hire you, your bargaining power will be at its strongest.

When the appropriate time for the conversation does arrive, one of the most important things to remember is that whatever you agree to at the outset will set the baseline for all subsequent raises, bonuses and benefits, many of which are calculated as a percentage of current earnings. Whatever you accept in the first instance, therefore, will not only affect you in the short term, but potentially for years to come.

Here are a few tips to bear in mind:

1. Before you even get to the negotiation stage, be sure to quantify your achievements in precise terms so that the employer can see clearly what value and benefit you will bring to his business. If you can express these in monetary terms (how much you can either make him or save him), then it will be so much easier to justify a good salary.

2. If you find yourself in a situation where an employer is pressing you to discuss money prematurely, speak only in terms of a salary range so that he understands that you are aware of what the going rate is, and then make it abundantly clear that the matter is negotiable.

3. Salary negotiation is about compromise and achieving a win-win situation for you and the employer. Be prepared to be flexible but do go into the negotiation knowing your own bottom line. There is absolutely no point in allowing yourself to be pushed to a point which simply is not financially viable.

4. Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the pay scale of the company that you are applying to and what the going rate is for similar positions within similar companies. Remember too that salaries do vary from region to region and just because you could command one figure in one location does not mean that it is necessarily reasonable in yours. I will come back to the issue of how to determine your own worth in another post.

5. Part of understanding what it is reasonable to expect involves understanding whether employees in your particular role, or who have your particular skills and qualifications, are currently in demand. The laws of supply and demand apply equally to the job market as to any other.

6. Use your experience to your advantage. The ability to ‘hit the ground running’ without incurring the time and expense of training is worth money.

7. Do not forget that remuneration is not just about money. Medical, dental, eye care and life insurance, company vehicles, vacation days, sick/personal days, 401(k) plans and pension plans, stock options, health club memberships and expenses reimbursement are just some of the things that can be used as part of the negotiation.

8. Try not to dive in too quickly to accept an offer. Even if it seems pretty reasonable, a moment’s hesitation might persuade the employer to up it. If he does not, and his first offer is entirely acceptable to you, do not be afraid to accept it.

9. Try not to dive in too quickly to reject an offer. If you do so without even appearing to consider it, you may be viewed as greedy or a little too cocky. If what you consider to be a reasonable offer is not ultimately forthcoming, however, do not be afraid to walk away from the deal.

10. Leave your personal financial considerations out of the negotiation. While it is important that you know your bottom line, employers are not interested in how much your mortgage or your credit card payments are costing you.

11. Keep the negotiations friendly and always remain calm and in control. Throwing your toys out of your crib because you cannot get what you want will not impress your future boss. A salary negotiation is a business exchange which is aimed at reaching a mutually acceptable agreement and should be kept professional at all times.

12. In the same way that you would prepare for your interview questions, you should also prepare for a salary negotiation. Think beforehand about how you are going to respond if the employer suggests that you are asking too much or comes in with a low offer based on lack of experience or qualifications.

About the Author

I am committed to providing people quick access to job search and career information. Over 20 years of experience in the HR and Career Coaching field has given me a vast amount of information and resources to share with you. My natural curiosity and desire to be on the leading edge of EVERYTHING, brings value to you as a blog participant because I will keep you informed of updates, changes and innovations that will assist you in finding the job.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-06-25 20:38:54 in Employee Articles

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