Take Charge of Negotiating Your Salary

salary negotiationDuring the interview process, do you know how to respond to the question about your salary expectations? 

More importantly, how well do you handle salary negotiations?

As an executive coach, preparing my clients for interviews and for the salary expectation question is a topic at the top of the list.

The first hurdle you face is during the initial interview process. Have you felt the pressure to divulge your salary expectations and the trepidation that if you didn’t, you’d alienate the interviewer?

If so, here’s my suggested response:

“I’m really focused on discussing how my skills fit this position and how I can contribute to your organization. Salary is important to me, but not the major consideration. I’m sure you offer a competitive salary (what are they going to say– no?) and we can agree on a fair salary if you decide I’m the right person for the job.”

There are at least four good reasons to delay salary discussions:

1. You need to understand exactly what the job requirements are and the scope of the job’s responsibility, before you can intelligently discuss salary.

2. You need to know your market value (check out www.salary.com) and understand the value of the specialized expertise, training and contacts you bring to this position. For example, you may possess a rich database of contacts in a specific niche in your industry. You could consider adding thousands to your asking salary depending upon how valuable these contacts are to increasing your immediate contribution.

3. If you have determined that this job is a good match, you need to sell yourself to the interviewer beforehand, so that when you do reach salary discussion time, they are more willing to be flexible about your starting salary. Be sure to stress the experience you’ve had managing the challenges they face; discuss specific examples and your unique contribution, use facts and figures.

4. You need to know the additional benefits that you can negotiate if salaries are locked-in at set levels (this is usually applicable to government jobs). For example: sign-on bonus, percentage of performance bonus, earlier review cycle, stock options, expense account, car allowance, additional vacation, memberships in industry organizations, etc.

When you’re deciding about a big purchase (a house, for instance) don’t you shop around, deciding if the house meets your needs, comparing houses in the neighborhood, knowing the mortgage rates and negotiating for the best deal?

Of course you do.

Why would you do any less with salary negotiations?

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