Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating a Great Salary
by Susan Grindstaff
A lot of people squander much of their potential income by being unskilled in the area of salary negotiation. Sometimes it's easy to underestimate your own value to a company, and in those situations, employers are often perfectly happy to pay you less than you are worth. Learning a few basic negotiating tactics can help you avoid this problem, and maximize your earnings without endangering your job.
Make a list of all the skills you have to offer, and memorize them for later use in negotiation.
Do research on the average pay rates in your area for the job you're interested in. There are repositories of this kind of information online, such as Job Star's database (see Resources). You need to be able to accurately evaluate any offers that are made. You also need to know how desperate the company is to hire somebody for your position. If they are in a particularly difficult situation, they might be willing to pay more money.
Demonstrate an enthusiastic persona. You should be calm, interested, and confident.
Make sure you have a bottom range in mind when you walk in the door. This should take into account what you need to live, how many other job offers are available, and what your current salary is if you're already employed. It should also be in line with a realistic pay range on the available position in your area.
Try to get the employer to mention a money range before you do. There's a good chance he may be willing to offer more than you expected, and you could easily cut your own money significantly if you don't get him to make the first move.
Try to be vague and avoid stating an absolute price. Make it clear to the that you have an acceptable pay range that you're looking for, but that you're also taking other things like benefits, and job requirements into account.
If the interviewer insists on getting a pay scale from you, be ready to answer. Make sure and mention any current job offers you have, and be ready to back up your request with your qualifications and previous salary history.
Once the employer makes an offer, if it's in a range that might be acceptable for you, ask for 24 hours to think it over.
Consider the offer, and if you want to press for more money, contact them again the next day. Try to mix positive comments with your request. Tell them how much you like the idea of the job, and then tell ask them if there is any way they could accommodate a higher amount. Give reasons why you need more money, such as other job offers--if they exist--or living expenses. Let them know if any side benefits could possibly make up for the lower salary.
At some point you will either have to accept an offer, or walk away. There is definitely a limit to how hard you can press for more money, and you'll need to have a good sense for that. If your position is easy to fill, you'll obviously have to lower your expectations, but you don't want to accept an offer that can't fulfill your minimum living expenses.