Career Services


Negotiating your Salary

The five Most Common Objections to Negotiating:

  • I’m afraid if I ask for more, I’ll jeopardize the job offer. If the company really wants you for the job, you’ll get the job regardless of whether you do or do not try to negotiate, so you might as well try.
  • Negotiating is only for aggressive “wheeler-dealer” types. Actually, negotiating involves very subtle communication.
  • I believe that when a company says it has reached its limit, the company really means it has no more to offer. Unless you are applying for a job within the government or academia, your employer most likely has 15 to 20 percent more for you in the budget than he or she will originally offer.
  • It embarrasses me that I might be seen as “greedy” if I ask for more money or try to bargain for better benefits. Most of us desire financial security and a measure of wealth so that we can live the life we choose. Wanting to improve your life-style and the lives of your family, friends, and even those less fortunate is not greed.
  • I don’t believe that my skills merit more pay than average. Review your skills and accomplishments. Look at what you know and what you can do. Look at who you are. You deserve to be rewarded for the value that you bring.

The four Bargaining Factors

1. Know the relative worth for your position in the marketplace.

  • Do some research to determine what, statistically, is a low, mid, and high salary range for a particular position. At no point should you confuse this ballpark figure for the actual sum you’ll settle for. You should use this only as a broad guideline. Salary tools on the Internet include:

2. Clarify what qualifies you to make more than average and more than the company’s initial offer.

  • What added value can you bring to the employer? Read the job description and analyze how and why you, as compared to the “average” applicant, can add more to the bottom-line profits of the company. Ask yourself the following:
    • Can I help the company make money?
    • How about saving money?
    • Could my skills be used to help speed up production, decrease waste, add a valued service, or improve customer relations?
    • Do I have stories illustrating that I perform consistently over quota?
    • Could I act as a manager or executive who would handle bigger budgets, manage more effective teams, and provide measurably superior leadership?
    • Can I prove that my organizational skills can save the company time?
    • Can I demonstrate that my public relations or customer service skills could turn the company image around?
    • Can I help save training time by being an independent, bright self-starter who learns quickly and doesn’t mind jumping in head first?

3. Determine your target salary and benefits.

  • Your target salary should always be 15 to 20 percent more than what the employer initially offers. Learn to quickly multiply by 15 or 20 percent and add it to your salary figure on the spot if you need to. Distinguish between benefits you absolutely need and those you want. Benefits could include:
    • Relocation fees
    • Sign-on bonus
    • Life, disability, and accident insurance
    • Medical, dental, vision, and counseling benefits
    • Paid holidays
    • Vacation Days
    • Health spa or gym membership
    • Company car
    • Mileage reimbursement
    • Training and education reimbursement
    • 401(k)
    • Profit Sharing
    • Commission Structure
    • Bonuses
    • Performance and salary review after 90 days
    • Stock options
    • Telecommuting (working from a computer at home)
    • Flextime
    • Child care reimbursement
    • Company-sponsored discounts on goods and services
    • Parking reimbursement
    • Commuting reimbursement
    • First or business class airfare
    • Expense accounts and company credit card

4. Forecast how long you are willing to wait until the negotiation resolves in your favor.

  • Some feel they can wait only 10 minutes; others, wisely, know that it can actually take weeks before a compensation package is settled. You may need income at this very moment, but the longer you can afford to wait for the circumstances to go your way, the greater advantage you will enjoy.
  • Think in terms of “open-door” negotiating. Open-door negotiating is about creating possibilities, carefully weighing those possibilities, and coming to a civilized agreement. There are several rules to observe in the game of open- door negotiating if you want to play it well:
    • Try to postpone the salary discussion until a job offer has been made or until you are in a second interview.
    • Do not be the first one to mention an exact amount of money, no matter how many ways the interviewer tries to get you to inform him or her of what you earned or what you wish to earn in the future.
    • Speak in terms of ranges of salary rather than using exact figures.
    • Postpone saying yes or no to an offer until you are sure you have all the information.
    • Postpone, postpone, postpone. There is no reason to rush a salary discussion, especially when that discussion could add 15 to 20 percent to your earnings. Be patient.

From Stein, Marky (2003). Fearless interviewing: how to win the job by communicating confidence. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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