Get Paid What You Are Worth
CBN.com Jim had been looking for a job for a couple of months, and was feeling desperate. When a large company offered him a job, he readily accepted the salary that was offered, even though it was substantially less than his previous position. He was grateful to have finally found a job, and felt it was a risk to ask for more money.
When Kathy’s husband became ill, they decided she would need to go back to work for a while. She had worked as an accountant before they started a family ten years ago. She began looking for a job, and it didn’t take her long to find one in a local family-owned business. Caught off-guard when she was asked what her salary expectations were, she told them what she had made at her last job. When they offered her a similar wage, she agreed, but later wondered how much salaries had increased in the last decade.
How to Negotiate Like a Pro
Many job applicants get caught unprepared when asked salary questions in an interview. Poor answers to money questions can cost you the job, or if you are hired, can result in your being paid thousands of dollars less than the employer would have been willing to pay. The following steps can prepare you to negotiate your salary skillfully:
1. Know the salary range you can expect to be paid for the position you have targeted. Not knowing this information is like trying to negotiate on a new car without knowing the dealer's costs. To negotiate effectively, you must have some idea of what people are being paid for similar type positions in your area. Here are some ways you can find salary information for your target position:
• Research salary information at Internet sites such as salary.com and glassdoor.com; geographic-specific sites such as California’s jobstar.org; and state employment site resources for labor market and salary information such as http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/occguides/
• Information can also be obtained through the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the American Almanac of Jobs and Salaries, state/federal employment departments, and employment agencies. Printed information will be dated, and may be national rather than specific to your geographic region.
• You can also conduct a labor market survey to obtain accurate salary information for your
geographic area. A labor market survey consists of calling five to ten employers who would hire
people for the position you are targeting. Ask them how often they have positions open and the
approximate salary range for the job when they do have positions open. By surveying a number
of employers you can determine an appropriate salary range for the position for which you are
2. Remember that pay is negotiable. Employers usually do not have one particular dollar amount in mind for a position. Instead, they typically have a range (for example, $40,000 to $50,000) within which they will be willing to negotiate. An employer’s goal usually is to get the right employee for the least amount possible. After all, they are running a business and have to consider their bottom line. Their first offer, therefore, is usually not the top dollar they are willing to pay.
3. Try to avoid discussing salary (and other benefits) until the employer is interested in hiring you. The time you have the most power to negotiate is from the time the employer wants you up to the time you accept the position. If salary questions are brought up early in the interview, attempt to defer the questions. If, however, the employer insists that you answer at that time, or if you are asked after the employer has indicated that they are interested in you, be prepared with a strategy for responding that still leaves you room to negotiate.
For example, if the employer asks, “What are your salary requirements?” you can respond by saying that while salary is important, right now you are more concerned as to whether you are a good fit for the position. Tell the employer that once you both determine that you are the right person, you’re sure that the two of you can come up with a satisfactory salary amount.
4. Once you are given a firm job offer, and the company has offered you a specific salary amount, you are now in a position to negotiate, if needed. For example, you are offered $45,000 per year, and based on your market research, a more appropriate salary for someone with your skills and experiences is $50,000 per year.
Negotiate by using questions, not ultimatums. You can state, for example: "Mr. Employer, I appreciate your job offer. I am excited about the duties of the job, the company seems to be a good fit for me, and I believe that you and I could work well together. I'm wondering if you could come up to $50,000 per year?"
If needed, you can always discuss how you have conducted some market research and have determined that $50,000 per year seems appropriate for someone with your skills and experience.
If the employer says, "No, I'm sorry we can only pay $45,000 per year," you are still in a position to be able to accept the job if you so desire. But in many cases they will negotiate with you. And just think--by asking questions you could add several thousand dollars to your salary. It is possible to add thousands of dollars to your starting salary by using some simple negotiation techniques.
5. Other benefits (for example, vacations, insurance benefits, etc.) may also be negotiable. Consider the overall compensation package when analyzing an offer.
6. It is easier to get a pay raise before you accept a job rather than after. Your negotiating power is strongest from the time that an employer wants to hire you until the time you accept the position. Do your negotiating within that window of time.
7. Practice answering salary questions and negotiating with a friend or family member.
Like any new skill, it may seem awkward at first. With a little practice, however, you can learn to negotiate like a pro! Learning to negotiate effectively can reap significant financial rewards for you for many years to come.
Kevin Brennfleck and Kay Marie Brennfleck are the authors of Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life. As National Certified Career Counselors and Life Calling Coaches, they are recognized experts in helping people identify their giftedness and find their purpose in life. If you are interested in career coaching and testing to discover work that fits your God-given design, you can schedule a free consultation session at www.ChristianCareerCenter.com.
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