When and How to Negotiate Salary With an Employer

When and How to Negotiate Salary With an Employer

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1. You need timing and tact

Mentioning salary in your cover letter or during the initial phone evaluation is a no-no. Don’t bring it up during your first interview, either. Use these opportunities instead to show your suitability for the role and let the employer get to know you. By the second interview, it’s usually acceptable to ask about compensation, but tact is key. 

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1. You need timing and tact

Express your interest in the job and the strengths you would bring to it before asking for the salary range.  Make the employer feel confident you’re there for more than just the paycheck. If they bring up money first, provide a range that leaves room for negotiation. Showing that you're flexible is the key toward working out a compensation 

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1. You need timing and tact

package that’s acceptable to both you and the employer. Just be sure you fully understand the job requirements before answering questions about your preferred salary.

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2. Hold your cards fairly close

As a general rule, it’s best to get the employer to offer a figure first. Knowing their starting point can give you some leverage during salary negotiations. But sometimes you can’t avoid going first. Some companies’ online job application forms will ask for your required salary, generally to ensure that candidates’ expectations line up with the organization’s budget.

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2. Hold your cards fairly close

In such a case, offer a range (not an exact figure) that would be acceptable to you. The same rule if it comes up during your first interview: Either give a salary range, or smile, defer and turn the question around: “I’d rather not talk in detail about money this early in the process. I’d like to first learn more about the job and the company. But may I ask what salary range you’re considering for the position?”

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3. Get your figures right

At the beginning of the process, even before your phone evaluation, do your homework and find out the latest salary ranges for your city, industry and the job title you’re applying for. The Robert Half Salary Guide will help you determine average national salaries for the position and industry. You can also use the Salary Guide to localize these figures for your market.

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4. Discuss what's offered

So, you’ve been offered the job, but the salary doesn’t meet your expectations? It’s perfectly acceptable to request additional compensation.  In a recent Robert Half survey of 2,800 senior managers across the United States, 86% of respondents said they were as likely or more likely to negotiate salary with new hires than they were a year ago.

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5. Present a strong case

In any negotiation, you need to give solid reasons for your position. Talk specifically about your skills, experience and prior successes, especially those that have had a measurable effect on a company’s bottom line. The latest data shows there’s a shortage of skilled professionals, which is driving up salaries. Many employers are also reinstating raises and improving benefits and perks.

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6. Never bluff

Never mislead a prospective employer about your current compensation or invent other job offers in an effort to get more money.  The truth will eventually come out. Instead, emphasize the value you can bring to the organization when discussing salary during an interview, and be honest about your situation.

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7. Think beyond the pay packet

Be sure to evaluate the entire compensation package. An interesting job with a lower starting salary could have a generous employee benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company.  You want to fully understand the whole picture, including health insurance, retirement plans and vacation days. 

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7. Think beyond the pay packet

Employers restricted by a smaller hiring budget might even sweeten the perks to close the deal.

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8. Get it in writing

Congratulations, you got the job offer and the salary you wanted! Now ask for it in writing. Never resign from your current position without having the compensation, job title and responsibilities, and other details documented. Knowing how to negotiate salary during an interview is like knowing how to dance. You don’t want to start too early, 

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8. Get it in writing

and you don’t want to step on anybody’s toes. Being prepared with salary research and a strong ability to communicate your most relevant strengths will help you put your best foot forward.

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