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How to Negotiate Salary at an Interview When They Know You Are Unemployed

by Kristin Swain

Negotiating a salary is very different depending on your employment status. Employers are more hesitant to offer an unemployed person the same salary as one who is already employed. The employer may be concerned about your abilities weakening during your time among the unemployed. They may also use it as an excuse to get a great employee at a discounted price. Don't sell yourself short and let an employer take advantage of you just because you're unemployed. Stand your ground and negotiate the salary you deserve.

Do Your Homework

Do a little research and understand what kind of financial situation you'll be going into as a part of your interview preparations. Research the national and regional salaries for the position. Don't expect salary negotiations to take place during your interview, but be prepared in case the employer wants to negotiate. Go into negotiations expecting that regardless of your previous salary history, the negotiations will start near the lower end of the salary range for the position. If the employer balks at your counter offer, provide practical examples of your skills from your work history. You can also bring in letters of recommendation from former employers to help strengthen your negotiating position by demonstrating you've been an excellent employee and parted on good terms with your former employer.

Don't Start the Conversation

Salary negotiations typically take place once a company has decided to offer you a job. Some employers decide to move things along at a faster rate and broach salary negotiations during the interview. Allow the employer to bring up the subject of salary during the interview. It makes you seem too eager for the position if you start salary negotiations first and brings a note of desperation on your part to the conversation. Be prepared when the interviewer broaches the subject with a salary range you believe is acceptable for the position and your skill set. In the event you think the employer may not be considering a job offer you can politely request that salary be discussed after a job offer has been made.

Don't Sell Yourself Short

Your prospective employers may know your employment status but they don't know if their job is your only employment option at the moment. Don't jump at their first salary amount if it's not fair, particularly when discussing salary at the interview stage before a job offer has been given. Even if you get raises later on, taking a lower than average starting salary can hurt your starting salary at other companies in the future. A solid counter offer amount is a salary within the median range for the position in your geographic location. If the employer seems unwilling to consider the amount of your salary requirements you can negotiate for a short probationary period to know whether the position is a good fit with a raise to an average salary at the end of the period. Do not undervalue the contribution your employment would make to the company, but stay within a realistic salary range in negotiations.

Be Confident

Project confidence during your interview and salary negotiations. Do not get emotional or defensive. If you need to argue your point, make valid, logical arguments that can easily be backed by data or real-world experience. During an interview the employer is attempting to assess whether or not you are a good fit for the position and the company while also determining whether or not your salary requirements work with the company's budget. You don't want to overstep and lose a potential job offer but no matter your employment status, an employer is paying for your experience and qualifications. Speak up and offer practical examples that demonstrate your abilities and ethics in the workplace.

About the Author

Residing in Los Angeles, Kristin Swain has been a professional writer since 2008. Her experience includes finance, travel, marketing and television. Swain holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication from Georgia State University.

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