How to negotiate salary

Understanding salary compensation is possibly the least understood part of the hiring process.

A company bases its pay structure on fair market value. Some companies prefer to pay at or below the mid-point of the pay scale for a job. It is important to remember that salary is only one part of a compensation package. Fringe Benefits and perks could easily equal 30 to 40 percent of the total cost to a company.

So, how do you get the salary you want? There are several things you should know about negotiating to get the compensation package that is right for you.

First, always go to an interview prepared. The key to any successful negotiation is to have the facts and figures. Take time to evaluate your skills, your knowledge, and your worth to an employer but be realistic about what you have to offer. Know your strengths and weaknesses and what is important and what you are willing to give up. Negotiations usually include compromises.

Second, you should have some idea of the market value for the position. You can obtain this information easily from salary surveys (find these online), newspapers, professional journals, and the Internet. Be sure to take into consideration the differences in cost of living from one geographic area to another. This could result in a higher or lower offer for the same job since companies tie their salaries to the local economy in which they operate.

Third, talk about your accomplishments and what a good employee you would be during your interview. You do not want to brag, but if you don’t tell the interviewer what you can do, who will? Emphasize your skills, your knowledge, and your achievements. Explain your leadership capabilities and your success in working with teams. If you have received any special awards or recognition, you will want to talk about them at this time.

Fourth, when asked, “What is your current salary?” You might reply, “I would prefer to understand more about this position before discussing compensation.” If asked, “What is your salary requirement?” you might respond with, “I understand that in Portland this job pays $60,000 to $65,000.” Or you might ask the interviewer to clarify the job duties and responsibilities, then ask, “For this position, what is the salary range?” Through all of this be sure to remember that you do not have anything to negotiate until you hear, “We would like to make you an offer.”

Fifth, listen to the other person, clarify what they are saying, and then explain your position. Be creative in arriving at solutions. Start your negotiations with the benefits that are least important to you. For example, if the amount of vacation you will get is less important to you than an early-retirement package, start negotiations with the vacation policy. You and the interviewer should leave feeling content that you have gotten the most important items.

In conclusion, companies make exceptions every day for the right talent. If you know your talents are unique, then you are in a good position to negotiate a successful compensation package. If an employer wants your talent, they will do what is needed, within reason, to have you become one of their employees.

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