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How to Negotiate Your Salary

Kimberly Griffiths -- Whether you're interviewing for a job or looking for a raise at your current job, negotiating your salary takes research and planning.

There are six critical parts to negotiating your salary: position requirements; why you are worth more; research what other people are making; contingency plan; presenting yourself; thank you note. It is essential to follow these negotiating tactics very closely if you want to have a positive outcome.

Position requirements

The first step in negotiating your salary is to determine the baseline requirements for this position. Key phrases in the job description such as the ones written below are a tip off that the position might allow for some negotiating. There's a fine balance between pushing for what you want and demanding it. Remember to always keep a calm and professional tone when speaking about money. It's a very personal matter to you but your behavior will determine how the negotiation will go.

-- Does the position require a Bachelors degree, Masters degree, or a Ph.D.?

-- Does the position require seven or more years of experience?

-- How much travel is involved?

-- How many people report into this position?

-- Is this position/promotion going to require a move?

-- Is the new metropolitan area have the same or higher cost of living?

One thing prospective employers do is ask you what your current salary is or what you were making at your last job. Before the recruiter can even ask this position, very early in your phone interview, you need to proactively ask, "What is the salary range for this position so that I know that this is a good match. I would hate to waste your time if the range isn't what I need." After you ask the question, wait for the response. Do not speak again until after you receive your response.

Why you are worth more

After assessing the position requirements and whether they warrant more money, consider the value that you bring to the negotiating table. Management wants proof.

-- How many additional widgets were you able to sell because of your (process, software, marketing campaign, infrastructure change, etc.)?

-- What is your track record of results-oriented achievement?

-- What commitment does management have that you will give them 110% when they really need you to pitch in?

Research what other people are making

Although you're not a compensation analyst, it's uncommon for most companies to have such a dedicated resource. Because of that, you don't know how the original salary was determined. You could ask how they came up with the salary range, but it might be a stronger case if you researched what your peers are making in a similar job.

There are numerous salary calculators in the marketplace that are free:

-- Network World Salary Survey
-- HomeFair
--CareerBuilder
Salary.com and Monster.com also have calculators worth exploring, too.

Contingency plan

Negotiating your salary is much simpler when you have leverage, which means you have another job or two lined up. By interviewing for similar positions at different companies, you will also uncover what other employers are paying.

This data is also very helpful when trying to negotiate a raise. You may find that if the discrepancy between new positions and your current position is so large, you would be better off taking the new job. Once there is more than a 10% discrepancy it isn't easy to negotiate now matter how much backup data you have.

Presenting yourself

Once you have all the data organized, create a summary of your findings. It may help to have it written down so that you can reference it during your face-to-face meeting with your prospective employer or current manager.

If you are looking for a raise from your current employer, one way to approach this with your manager is to say, "I've uncovered a 10% gap between what I'm currently being paid and what I'm worth to another employer. I would like to stay in my current job but need your assistance to fill that gap."

After saying this, be quiet. Don't say another word. Simply look at your boss and study his/her reaction. Let your boss speak next. If you speak next you have back peddled on your argument, which means you are willing to take less money. Do not use this tactic unless you have another offer letter in hand from a new employer.

If you're negotiating a new salary with a prospective employer it is always easiest to do this when you're still employed. If circumstances have left you jobless, don't fret, you can lead with something like, "I want to thank you for the opportunity to work with you and I'm very excited about this position. However, based on my of years of experience in , the fact that I hold a degree, I was looking for a higher salary. I think we're close but I was looking for $x based on my research." Show the hiring manager your research and let him/her have a chance to discuss it internally before coming back to you with a counter offer.

Know when to be quiet when negotiating. Silence is much more powerful than speaking.

Thank you note

Regardless of whether you get offered the job or not, be sure to send a courteous thank you note or email to your prospective employer. It shows your interest and that you are considerate of the time they took to meet you.

Negotiating for what you're worth requires that you have self-esteem and confidence. Make sure that your prospective employer sees that radiate from you. Good Luck!

One Paycheck at a Time Inc. is the leading source for sensible debt reduction solutions. Its products include the One Paycheck at a Time paperback (ISBN: 1591133327), as well as an ebook format, and the eTools program. The author of the book and president of the company, Kimberly A. Griffiths, has been through the vicious cycle of debt herself and has made it her personal goal to share her experience to help others. More information can be found about the company and its products at www.onePaycheckataTime.com.

© 2007 Kimberly A. Griffiths

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