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Salary rules

( -- I will be moving to another area in my state where the salary requirements are much lower than what I make. I am willing to accept a lower salary but need to know how to convey this to prospective employers on my resume or cover letter when they ask for salary requirements.

A. Money is a touchy subject for most people. You may be putting too much emphasis on salary before you know about the job itself. Don't automatically assume that salary will be a problem. Discuss the job responsibilities and your fit for the position first, salary last. It is important that you do a little research before jumping to conclusions. First, know your own bottom line: what is the lowest salary you are willing to accept. Second, what is the differential between where you moved and where you were employed previously? One Web site that may assist you in calculating this factor is

Here are two rules of salary negotiation.

Rule #1 is "He who mentions money first loses." (from an unknown origin). Wait until the subject is approached and then answer that you are open on salary and are looking for an opportunity to re-establish yourself in a new territory. You might ask the interviewer about the salary range budgeted for the position.

If you are asked to state your former salary, say that you would like to hear more about the responsibilities of the job before you discuss salary. Put off the discussion about salary as long as possible, or at least until you know the particulars of the position. When comparing the salary you received somewhere else to a new salary, make sure that you have all the details for comparison. For example, will there be additional or fewer discretionary decisions to make, or more or less supervisory responsibility? A little preparation beforehand will help you get through this and come out with a win/win conclusion.

Rule #2 is "Never try to negotiate until you have an offer in writing." You are in a far stronger position to negotiate after the offer. Your chances of getting a higher salary improve if the interviewer is convinced you are the right person for the job.

(c) 2002

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