Salary negotiations don't usually take place until after second interview, when it's clear to both you and the hiring manager that the job appears to be a good fit for all parties. Don't bring up the issue before then, or you run the risk of being seen as money-focused. If the hiring manager broaches the topic before you're comfortable, deflect the question by saying, "I'd like to know a little more about the position's expectations before talking salary."
Know Your Worth
Salaries can vary widely, even in the same industry, so it's vital that you know the current going rate for your position in your part of the country, even before your first interview takes place. Consult the National Association of Colleges and Employers Salary Survey or reference the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, which provides salary data for a variety of jobs. Print the statistics and bring them with you to your salary negotiation, and don't forget to factor in the value of special training, advanced degrees or significant levels of experience.
Have a Figure in Mind
Know in advance of your salary negotiation meeting what you want and what you are ultimately prepared to accept. If possible, wait for the hiring manager to throw out an initial offer. If you make the first move, you run the risk of undervaluing yourself or shooting too high. If pressed for a number, refer to your salary research. Suggest a salary range, with the bottom number being the lowest you'd be willing to accept. For example, say, "Based on my research, I believe an appropriate salary for this position is in the $45,000 to $50,000 range.
Don’t Forget the Perks
Factor in the value of benefits and perks. If your employer offers a health plan, bonus structure, or profit-sharing or retirement program, that money can add up. Ask about the monetary value of the benefits package so you have an idea of its worth. Some companies even offer child care and tuition reimbursement, health club membership and other perks, so inquire about all that’s available.
As you go back and forth in your negotiations, if it appears the hiring manager can't or won't budge any more on financial compensation, look for other negotiating points. For example, ask about an expense account, use of a company car, extra vacation days or partial telecommuting options. You can also ask for a contract stipulating that you can revisit the salary issue after a certain period of time. This lets the hiring manager off the hook for paying you more at the beginning, but might position you for an early raise.
- United States Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics; Overview of BLS Wage Data by Area and Occupation
- University of San Francisco: Job Interviewing and Salary Negotiation
- University of Minnesota: Salary Negotiation Tips
- University of South Carolina Career Center: Successful Salary Negotiation
- NACE: Salary Survey
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