How to negotiate successfully for the salary you want
The biggest problem all interviewees experience is the knotty problem of worth. Most employers want what you have to offer. The trouble is they don't want to pay for it. Don't be put off by this. They have to pay for it and they know it - they just don't want to!! Of course it seem to be an even greater problem if you are coming from a position of being unemployed.
With that as background, one needs to enter into the salary negotiations with a degree of sensitivity, backed up by a good dose of determination. Diplomacy and tact are important. You don't want to lose a great job because you appear greedy. What you are after is a fair return on your investment into their business - or a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.
The Rules of Negotiation
The starting point for all salary negotiations is unspoken. It will rest in the quality of your resume which must be put together to reflect your true worth. This is why it's so important to address your entire skill base to see what added value you can bring to the company over and above fulfilling the job description. You must also address the success you have had, which is why our questionnaire goes into so much detail over these questions. Even if you have been unemployed, you have still had successes in life. It doesn't matter that you weren't in employment at the time. These are important pointers to your worth to a potential employer and will also form the basis of the questions you'll be asked at the interview. You will therefore have plenty of opportunity to elaborate on your achievements and you should take the opportunity with both hands and exploit it. A well prepared resume can add 10% - 15% to the salary the company is prepared to offer - this based on the quality of the resume alone.
It goes without saying that the way you present yourself at the interview will have a marked effect on all negotiations, whether about salary or anything else. If you look scruffy and unwashed you'll be doomed no matter how capable you are. These points might seem obvious, but they all impact on the outcome you want. You have to play to their rules, not yours. Remember the old maxim - "You only get one chance at a first impression." Actually this is not quite true with a job interview. Here you get two chances. The first is the resume which will lead to the forming of an impression before you personally have been met. The second is the meeting, which MUST back up and reinforce the original impression, or even improve upon it.
Part of your interview preparation must be to research salary levels and salary ranges for the job you're applying for. Don't be satisfied with a simple answer. You need to check whether there are variations across different industries too. Go to your interview armed with this information so that you know the boundaries of your negotiations, that is to say, the minimum to accept and the maximum to ask for.
Another source of important advice is the recruitment or employment agency you have used (if you have used one that is!). There are three reasons for this.
1. They should know the going rate for the job.
2. The employer will have indicated to them what they are prepared to pay.
3. Agencies are often paid a percentage of the first years salary, so it's in their best interests to get you as much money as possible!
Now that you are armed with the ammunition for your negotiations, you need to sell yourself. Selling yourself is no different from selling widgets. And the same buying truisms prevail. People buy from people they like, and this will often over-ride price. Go to the interview prepared in every aspect. Be prepared to talk about your work, your family, your political attitudes, everything. But above all make them like you, and make them believe that you will add value to the company. In other words, you will be worth more to them than the amount they pay you. It is very important to understand that. Think about what you will generate and be ready to show them if the opportunity arises. Help them to understand that if they pay you X you will help increase turnover to Y - or whatever is an appropriate measure for the effect you will have on the business.
There is always more than one way to achieve your aim. Be flexible and you'll get what you want. You don't want to lose the job because of greed any more than the employer wants to lose the right employee through meanness. If you don't appear to be getting what you want, talk about starting salary and a review in three months with a view to an increase. Consider bonus payments too. Go to the interview armed with a number of solutions. Above all, don't put yourself in the position of having to think on your feet on the day. You will always come off the worse in those situations. Should that unfortunate situation arise, ask for time to think and say you'll get back to them within twenty four hours.
Salary and Benefits
Remember that you can be paid in both cash and kind and taken together, that is your total remuneration package. Consider the following negotiating points alongside a basic salary.
1. Company car
2. Health Insurance
3. Pension Scheme
4. Vacation package (though it's best not to talk about days off at your interview!!)
5. Bonus schemes
All the above can be used to increase the benefit to you, without it necessarily costing the employer much. Assuming that the tax disadvantages do not outweigh the financial advantages, a company car is normally of far greater worth to you than what it will physically cost the company to provide it.
Have you been made Redundant?
Have you been out of work for some time?
Please don't feel you have to accept a lower salary than the norm just because you may be coming from a position of redundancy or unemployment. Your worth is your worth, and your worth is a combination of you personally and the added value you bring to the business. Redundancy or unemployment should not impact on that at all. If you allow a lowered self-esteem which may have sprouted from this situation to lull you into accepting less than is fair, it will breed resentment and that will reduce your ability to give your best to your new employer.
The Salary Negotiations
At some point in your interview you will be faced with one or two inevitable questions. The right approach to both is essential if you are to succeed in your expectations.
* "How much did you earn in your last job?"
* "What salary would you be looking for were you to be offered
Let's take each question in turn.
How much did you earn in your last job?
The utmost caution is required at this point. Most people move jobs to progress in their careers and to get more money. Your own reason may be one or both of these, but perhaps you are coming from a position of unemployment. In any event, you don't want to disadvantage yourself by being strapped to what you used to earn, unless you are only looking for a small increase in earnings. Your employer may well try to give you a salary linked to your last one rather than pay the rate for the job. If you were unemployed he might try to pay you the bare minimum he can get away with. Don't let this happen.
If you were unemployed or if there is a big difference between what you were earning previously and what you want now - 15% or more, then take evasive action! Put the answer on hold, and be bold about it. Negotiations are two way affairs. Not only are they interviewing you for a job, but you are interviewing them to see if you want to work for them also. Never forget that. You should say that you would prefer not to answer that question at the moment until you have a fuller understanding of the responsibilities and expectations of the job you are applying for. Say that you don't believe you would be comparing like with like and therefore what you were earning before is not relevant at this juncture. Whatever happens don't just give them your basic salary. Add everything you can to it, every possible benefit and give them the grossed up amount - but not until it suits you to do so.
Of course if you have not been earning you cannot answer the question. It may be obvious from you resume that you have been unemployed - but in any event that has no bearing on what you should be paid now. You should expect the market rate for the job. Because you've done your research before going for the interview, you will know what that is. Don't accept a penny less. Know what you're worth and hang out for it. If they want you, they'll pay for it. Of course you will have to start at the lower end of the salary scale, but never at less than that.
What salary would you be looking for were you to be offered this position?
You should have done your research on the salary ranges offered and therefore be in a position to give an informed answer. Unless you really are a top-notch prospect, don't pitch in at the top of the scale, but somewhere in the middle of the range. Speak to the recruiting or employment agent and ask their advice. You don't have to accept it, but they might have been given an indication by the employer of what they are willing to pay the right candidate. If you have been unable to determine the salary range beforehand, now is the time to ask the interviewer that question.
Now be bold. Refer them to your resume and experience and begin to tell then what you believe you're worth. Say, "You will see from my resume that I am very experienced in this field (or whatever) and I know I will add value to your business. I judge myself to be well worth X and I would be looking at least for this amount." The way you approach this could add thousands to your package so be bold and confident, but not cocky.
A word of warning - do not answer this question until you feel satisfied that they have the measure of your worth and that you have a complete understanding of the job on offer. If the question is asked too early in the interview, use the same delaying tactic as referred to earlier and say you would rather postpone answering until you have a better feel for the full responsibilities and expectation attaching to the position.
There is of course one further problem area and that is for a newly created post. What do you do then? Well in many ways it is just the same. Do your research on salary ranges across industries. Discover what others are being paid so that you have a basis for negotiation. It may well be that the employer is not too sure what the salary should be either. Perhaps the role will develop, and the job description change with experience. One solution is to agree an initial package and then agree to review it upward say in three or six months. Whatever is agreed, make sure it is in writing and incorporated into your contract of employment.
In summary, you must enter the interview phase as an equal party to the negotiations. Both sides need to see whether they like the other and can work together. Salary negotiations are also a two-sided affair. The employer wants your labour, skills and experience. In return you want some of his money. Turn the whole thing on it's head and ask yourself this question: If the employer were to say, "I'll pay you X, what are you prepared to give me for that?", you begin to see there are two sides to the negotiation. If you are offered a miserable amount of money, be prepared to say you'll accept it, but you'll only work three days a week! That should make the point that you are no fool and know what you're worth!! Seriously - there are clearly two sides and each must honor the other fairly. Don't allow all the balls to be in the employer's court where they so often seem to be left.
Be well prepared, clean, tidy, polite, diplomatic, forthcoming, focussed and determined. Enjoy the interview and may each side feel they have won.
And finally you might like to read this:
The 10 Commandments Of Salary Negotiations
By WALTER S. KELLER ( The Salary Expert)
While exploring new career options, I asked two neighbors who had made recent job changes what percentage pay increase they received. I was surprised when one told me 39%. When the second said his new salary was 46% higher, I realized that increases in job changing weren't limited to the 5% to 10% usually given for internal promotions and cost-of-living raises.
My neighbors did me a great favor. They opened my eyes to the truth in this statement: You can negotiate anything. Here are my 10 commandments for negotiating a new salary.
1. Research your profession's salary range. Check with recruiters in your field (even if you don't pursue their leads), competitors, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, the Internet, your local chamber of commerce and trade publications.
2. Select a target salary or total pay. You may not get the amount you want, but having a specific objective can help you get close.
3. Don't initiate salary discussions. Wait for the interviewer to bring the subject up, even if it's postponed to a second interview.
4. When asked for your salary requirements, say that they're "negotiable." Do the same on applications by writing "negotiable" in any box asking about salary details. If the form asks you to provide current salary, write, "to be covered during interview." This isn't being evasive, because without knowing details about benefits, how could you select a salary figure?
5. When asked for your salary requirements, reply by asking the interviewer to share the position's salary range. If your request isn't granted, excuse yourself politely and leave. (Would you want to work for a firm that won't respond to this legitimate request?)
6. Discuss benefits separately from salary. Your list of benefits can include insurance, tuition reimbursement, relocation payments, stock options, bonuses and outplacement upon termination.
7. Analyze all benefit packages with a family member or friend, or with an insurance, investment or bank professional. They'll provide you with an invaluable second opinion and may look at the offer more objectively.
8. Consider the cost of living if you're moving to a new area, and if it's higher, suggest that you be paid a differential.
9. In discussing why you deserve a substantial increase, use examples of your accomplishments that prove your value, not merely your experience. Comparisons to your current salary are irrelevant and should be avoided; you're talking about the benefits you'll bring, not your past salary, which you may have had no control over.
10. Always assume a firm's first offer is negotiable and never accept an offer at the interview. Express your strong interest, but state you always discuss decisions of this magnitude with advisers whose judgment you have relied upon for years. Tell your interviewer when you'll contact him or her with your decision.
By following these commandments, you'll increase your chances of receiving a pay increase well into the double-digits.
Mr. Keller is a consultant with CareerPro, a career consulting firm based in Willow Grove, Pa
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