By Jim Wong, CPA | March 21, 2013


Negotiating a salary is an uncomfortable process for many people. You don’t want to offend your future employer, but you also want to get a fair salary.

A tough job market doesn’t make this situation any easier, but if you want to get what you’re worth, you need to learn how to negotiate. We always tell candidates, “If you don’t ask, you’ll never get it.” However, the way you ask and timing are also factors to consider.

Before you even begin to negotiate, do some research on salary ranges for the job title and region you are in, and know your minimum, acceptable compensation.

Forbes writer Susan Adams talked with three employment experts about the best way for job candidates to negotiate salary and other perks.

Research Your Future Employer
Negotiations start with research, not what you think you deserve. Learn as much as possible about the salary ranges for your position in your industry to understand what and why: What are you negotiating? Why are you doing so?

You also want to understand your future employer. What sort of perks do they have? What are their employee policies and general compensation practices? Adams suggests glassdoor.com and LinkedIn to get background on a company.

Keep in mind negotiations aren’t limited to money. Really think about what is important to you. Is it where you’ll sit in the office, vacation time, or the ability to work from home when necessary?

Lies are Counterproductive
Rusty Rueff, author of “Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business,” says job seekers should be transparent about why they need to earn a particular salary. He adds, “The hiring manager wants to know there’s a rational explanation behind what you’re asking for.”

When a hiring manager asks how much you currently make, Roy Cohen, a veteran career coach, suggests you use a delay tactic. For example, say, “I want to figure out if there’s an opportunity for me here.” “If you’re coming from a low-paying job, such as at a nonprofit, and want to make a lot more, you can say to the hiring manager, ‘I’m sure you know I’m coming from a lower-paying industry where salaries are not in line with the private sector,’” says Adams.

Let them know you are looking for a fair and competitive salary based on the role, your skills, and your experience. If you aren’t prepared to have the discussion because you don’t know much about the role, let the hiring manager know.

Establish Yourself as a Valuable Commodity
Show your future employer you are the best person for the job and will help them address any challenges that exist. Cohen suggests job seekers offer solutions and strategies at meetings and in follow-up emails throughout the negotiation process.

Have Competing Offers
If you are lucky enough to have multiple offers, let hiring managers know about them. Cohen says, “The only way you remain exciting to an employer is by giving the impression you are dynamic and busy, you’re consulting, and you have other conversations going on.”

Appear Humble
Orville Pierson, author of “The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search” and Rueff suggest job seekers should be confident, but not cocky. Rueff also suggests you go to an interview prepared with stories to illustrate your accomplishments and values.

Negotiate in Person
Cohen says if you are sitting in front of the hiring manager there’s more of a commitment. Adams adds, “It’s a lot easier to get someone off the phone than to dismiss a prospective employee from your office.”

Remember, the time to ask for a specific salary is after you have already been offered the job. If you discuss it before, you risk losing your chances of even receiving an offer.

Most companies will negotiate, but job seekers sometimes don’t even try. Do your research, be professional, and while you may feel nervous, a new job or new role is an opportunity to increase your compensation and one that doesn’t come around all that often.

This article originally appeared on Clear Focus Financial Search.


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