Salary Negotiations

Know your value and stand up for it

No one minds negotiating anything, until it comes to salary. Then, they worry about asking for too much and offending someone.

Today's employers expect some type of negotiation. It takes confidence and preparation. Once you have a job offer be prepared to talk about money. You should do your homework to help ensure you can negotiate effectively.

First, you'll need to know the reasonable range of salary for the position and your level of experience. According to jobstar.org, check periodicals, local newspapers, employment agencies, trade and professional journals and associations. There are also a number of online resources that can help, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You will want to evaluate the information you find based on geographic area and how applicable it is to your own situation.

Next, examine the entire compensation package. Be sure to consider benefits such as insurance, stock options, profit sharing plans, vacations, paid holidays and sick/personal days. Also, consider bonuses, review periods and normal raises for the company.

Figure out a range of acceptable pay. Aim for the top of that, but be prepared to accept something in the middle.

Once your potential employer makes an offer, don't immediately agree to the amount. According to Jack Chapman, author of "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute," just saying "OK" to a salary figure can cost you a bundle. Instead, he recommends saying "hmm." That alone is not going to get you the salary you want, but it's a start. Once you've stopped to consider before accepting an offer, you'll need to know what you want and what you can expect.

During your negotiations, if your would-be employer suggests a salary range, Career Link, the University of Baltimore's Career Center's online newsletter, recommends repeating the figure at the top of the range and then pause, allowing the employer to reconsider. If the offer is lower than you expected, don't be afraid to say so. If the employer offers an exact salary, it is usually safe to assume the number is mid-range.

Remember, you want to work with these people. Try to make your negotiations win/win. Being prepared with reasonable salary information will help. Don't play hardball. You'll be working with these people; think team.

Sources: "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute," by Jack Chapman; jobstar.org; Career Link, the University of Baltimore's Career Center's online newsletter; and the U.S. Department of Labor.


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