Tribune Content Agency
4:52 PM EDT, August 21, 2013
Negotiating a salary is often one of the most unnerving parts of landing a new job.
While all pieces of the job search puzzle — finding a desirable open position, submitting a resume and cover letter, surviving an interview (or two or three) — can be rough, it’s how much money the company offers you that could ultimately make or break whether you accept the position.
The process of back-and-forth salary negotiation has become increasingly uncomfortable in light of the nation’s declining job market and struggling economy. With so many companies cutting staff and many unemployed scrambling to land new jobs, job seekers may fear that negotiating a salary is out of the question.
But while negotiating for a higher salary can be problematic when financial woes limit an employer or competition for a job is fierce, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
Know your worth
Before you walk into an interview, know what the high, low and average salary and compensation levels are for a person with your skills, experience and education.
Also, know where the company stands financially. If it’s been an especially tight year, the company may have little to no wiggle room on your salary offer.
Pick the right time
It’s best to let the interviewer begin salary discussions. Bringing up compensation too early — before you’ve found out enough about the position, or before the interviewer knows your real value — won’t do you much good.
“Where salary negotiation has been kept offstage for much of the interview process, when it finally does come onstage, you want the employer to be the first one to mention a figure, if you can,” says Richard Nelson Bolles, author of “What Color is Your Parachute: Job Hunting in Hard Times Edition” (Ten Speed Press, $18.95).
Don’t surrender too quickly
Salespeople know that the first no is just beginning of the sale. Show patience and persistence while discussing salary rather than giving up at the first sign of resistance.
Support your claim for higher pay
Present concrete and measurable examples of how you would increase your value by doing more than just your assigned job duties. Show the company how you would make them more money, save them money and time or solve problems on the job.
Before you walk into the interview, know what benefits are particularly important to you. Then, at the end of salary negotiations remember to ask what benefits are offered – and negotiate if necessary for the benefits you particularly care about. Thinking this out ahead of time will make the process much easier.
Take time to think it over
If your salary negotiation ends on a final offer from the company, there’s no reason to jump on it without taking some time to mull it over. Deciding to accept a new job is a big, sometimes life-changing decision, and often takes careful planning to ensure everything relating to the job — schedule, pay and benefits — fits with your needs.
In the end, you will either need to politely pass on the job offer or make a commitment to the organization, says Brian D. Krueger, author of “College Grad Job Hunter” (Adams Media, $14.95).
“It should be a commitment that you are willing to stand behind,” Krueger says. “Companies spend money, commit resources, allocate training time and shape schedules around your commitment.”
Make performance review a priority
You may decide to settle for a salary that was below your initial expectations. If so, be sure to express your interest in having your job performance reviewed by your supervisors at least once a year. This will give you a chance to prove you’re worth a boost in pay when the time comes.
Copyright © 2014, Tribune Media Services