Tips on Negotiating Salary

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Your interview is going exactly the way you envision; your responses are coming out on-point, clear and confident. Until they ask, “What are your salary expectations?” Preparation for this question is equally important, as much as every other question in the interview. Though every candidate knows this question could be posed, it’s one that candidates may brush off or save to the end. Prep for the question by knowing the exact breakdown of your salary. What’s your base, hourly rate, annual salary and if applicable, your total compensation package, (base plus benefits). A compensation package usually includes benefits paid for in full or part; insurance, paid time off, tuition assistance, retirement plan, profit share, etc.

No doubt, it’s a nervy subject. Too low, too high – initially an answer neither you or the interviewer know yet. Often, your interviewer will ask you first, “What are you currently making?” If you are not comfortable answering that question, ask for a bit more information. “If you don’t mind, It would be helpful to hear a few more details about the position first so I can get a bit more clarity before discussing compensation.”  Or, tell them what you expect to make, not what you’re currently being paid. Though, that last statement needs some prior research on your part. Checking industry salary reports, or use online databases. Other resources include the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov – specifically, the Occupational and Employment Wage Statistics page; OEWS, Monster.com (salary), Glassdoor.

And if you can, wait until the offer stage or as long as possible to discuss concrete numbers. That’s when you have the most leverage — you know you’re a top contender because they’ve already spent a lot of time vetting you. But on the other hand, more companies are beginning to state their pay upfront, in which case you might discuss salary in first or second rounds. If you’re confident in what you want your salary to be, and you have a lot of promising interviews lined up, you might bring it up on the early side to make the most of your time,

So, what about the actual negotiation process? To start, be clear about your absolute minimum. A reasonable range for $100,000 might be $95 – $115.00 if you’re not quite sure about the fit or still have doubts. If you’re confident the position checks all your boxes, you could tighten your range, $95 – $102,000, which gives you the opportunity to negotiate other benefits. 

If this discussion takes place before your final interview, the number you state does not have to be the end-all. You can follow-up by saying the range you offered is based on the knowledge you have learned about the position thus far, and you look forward to a more concrete discussion as you progress through the interview process. Though the conversation can make the most unflappable candidate nervous, remind yourself they are asking because you are a viable candidate. Believe in your worth and state it with confidence!

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