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Negotiating Your Salary

Salary Information

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Negotiating Your Salary

A successful salary negotiation is one where both the prospective employee and the hiring organization come away satisfied. Negotiation requires planning and preparation.

New Graduates

Keep expectations in line with reality. Many entry-level positions are structured and non-negotiable. Additional factors, including benefits, work schedule, and salary review date may be negotiable, and can be considered if a firm offer is low. For an entry-level position, don't overlook the benefit of gaining experience if you feel it is a job you will enjoy and learn from.

Resume and Cover Letter

Do not give details of previous salary or mention salary requirements on a resume. If the employer has requested this information, state it at the end of the cover letter. Include special factors, such as the position was part-time while attending school or was in a different field. State salary requirements as "open" or "negotiable." Always be honest about previous salaries, as this can be easily verified, but you can include information regarding benefits to increase the total value of your compensation.

Research

It is very important to do your homework before meeting with a prospective employer. By researching the organization on the Internet and by talking with others, you can obtain information useful in salary negotiations. Research what your worth is, based on your education and experience. There are many tools available to explore salaries in your field: Onet Online, Salary.Com, JobSearch, Jobweb, or in the Choices computer program at the Career Center. Talk to individuals doing the same kind of work, taking into consideration geographic area and current supply and demand.

Determine your ideal salary and the minimum salary you will accept based on your research.

Interviewing

Wait for the employer to bring up compensation. Focus on what you bring to the organization while learning more about the position. If they are interested in hiring you, they will eventually discuss salary, possibly at a second interview. The individual who mentions a figure first generally has less power in a negotiation. If you are asked for your salary requirements, you can ask about the range they had in mind. If you cannot avoid answering the question, stay close to your high figure, since you can negotiate down but not up. Keep in mind your minimum figure (which you don't tell the employer); if the offer falls below this, you will need to decide whether benefits and career potential make up for the difference.

Evaluating the Offer

After a firm offer is made, you need to determine if you want to accept. If you would like time to consider the salary or other factors, it is acceptable to ask for some time to make your decision. Most employers will not expect you to accept immediately. After thinking about it, if you feel you want to make a counter offer, you can do so, but the employer may say no. Do not accept a position where salary or other factors leave you very dissatisfied, as you will have a negative attitude. If you are considering another position in which you have more interest, you will then have to make a decision whether to accept the firm offer. Once you have accepted, any negotiations with other employers should be terminated. If you accept the position, ask the employer to give you the offer in writing, including benefits. If you reject the offer, write a letter to the employer thanking him/her, in addition to gracefully turning the offer down verbally.

Counter Offer from Current Employers

If you are leaving a previous position, occasionally your current employer will make a counter offer, increasing your salary or benefits so you will remain. It generally is not a good idea to accept a counter offer. Will remaining solve the problems? The relationship with the current employer may change; they might assume you will continue to look for jobs.