In the course of your job search, invariably the question of money will come up. Your response can make – or cost you – thousands of dollars. These negotiating salary tips can help you land the job – and get paid what you are worth.
“What kind of salary do you expect to receive?” The brief amount of time it takes you to respond could be the most expensive or financially rewarding seconds of your life. Despite the great import of this question (and the extreme likelihood that it will be asked), most job seekers are not prepared to discuss the issue of pay.
Employers want to know your salary history and expectations. They use this information, in part, to determine if you are likely to stay on the job and be satisfied. If you are used to being paid more than they can afford to offer, employers worry about whether or not you would leave for a better-paying position. If you are currently being paid less, they are concerned that you may not be qualified for their current opening. Furthermore, employers don’t want to waste their own time and energy by interviewing unlikely candidates.
Most pay-related questions early in the interview are designed to help the employer either eliminate you from consideration or save money at your expense. If you adhere to the following simple guidelines, you should make it through preliminary job screenings and understand how to command the salary you feel you deserve.
Rules of Negotiation
Never talk money until they decide they want you. The first person (interviewer or candidate) to name a figure, loses. Your best strategy for discussing pay is to put off the discussion until you are certain the employer wants to hire you. This rule is easier said than done, certainly.
Many employers want to know how your joining the organization will affect the company’s cash flow, so they’ll try to get to the subject as soon as possible. If employers request a salary requirement when they advertise the position or in a preliminary interview, an appropriate response would be that you would like to know more about the position and responsibilities before you would feel comfortable naming a figure. When the timing is right, you ideally want to maneuver the interviewer into naming a figure. However, some potential employers will insist on knowing how much you expect to be paid. What do you do then? Read on.
Know in advance the probable salary range for similar jobs in similar areas. Before you can effectively negotiate pay, you need to know the typical rate for similar jobs in your area. Be aware that local pay rates may be very different from national ones. You can determine this figure by talking to people who hold similar positions, reading want ads in the paper or seeking advice from your local employment service office. Internet employment sites and the library should also prove to be valuable reference tools.
Always bracket your stated salary range to begin within their probable salary range and a bit above what you expect to settle for. A good way to approach this is to think in terms of pay ranges. For example, most receptionists in a specific region may get paid from as little as $9 to as high as $19 per hour. Their range then would be $9 to $19 an hour. An experienced computer repair technician might be paid from $27,000 on the low side to $40,000 on the high side, so the range here would be from the high $20s to high $30s or low $40s.
Never say no to a job or salary offer either before it is made or within 24 hours afterward. Perhaps you think it is impossible to say no before an offer is made, but it happens quite frequently. In a first interview, let’s say the topic of salary does come up. If you were hoping to get a minimum salary of $35,000 a year and the employer was hoping to pay $33,000, you just might show some disappointment. You might even say something like “Oh, no, I couldn’t consider that.” If you did, that would be the end of that possibility.
Before you were even offered the job, you turned it down. Never give a hint that the salary discussed is not acceptable to you. At worst, you could reject it the next day. At the close of your interview, thank the interviewer for the offer and ask for some time to review this important decision. If you are truly dissatisfied with the offer, call back the following day (as promised) and say something along the following lines: “The salary is lower than I would like, and that is the one reason I cannot accept it. Perhaps you could reconsider your offer or keep me in mind for future openings that might allow me to be of more worth to you.” This response leaves the door open for negotiation but should only be used if you are willing to walk away from the job.
Now suppose a particular job turned out to be the perfect job for you in all respects – except salary. If you had only hung around to find out more, you may have been delighted to take it. It is also possible that once the employer has some time to get to know you for the wonderful person you undoubtedly are, an extra effort might have been made to come up with the extra $2,000 to get you aboard.
Negotiating your salary pays off.
Remember that employers are often as uncomfortable about discussing money as you are, so help them out by knowing in advance what various positions are likely to pay in your area. Also, be prepared to defend why you are worth what you hope to earn. Negotiating your salary can be difficult, but the payoff is definitely worth it.