The Art of Salary Negotiation

How many times have you accepted a job offer as is? Why? Was it because you were just too excited to even get an offer? Or did you think they couldn't offer you any more money than they did? Or maybe you were just too nervous to talk about money and so the easiest route was to avoid it. The truth is, in those 30 minutes of discussing the job offer you have the potential to earn $5,000 or more! So take a moment to study the strategy below so that you're prepared to negotiate your salary the next time you receive a job offer.

1. Know your worth. The first step is to do some research on the job market. What is the typical salary range of someone with your education, experience, and skill set in the city that you'll be working in? Based on your unique strengths, are you at the lower or higher end of that range? You can easily find information on salary online or you can connect with your colleagues to find out what they earn (if they'll share).

2. Know the company's general compensation structure. Is there a structured salary band for the position you're applying to or is there flexibility in what they offer depending on the candidate's credentials? You'll also want to know who to discuss the salary with, it may be your immediate boss or the HR representative. You don't want to end up discussing salary with someone who has no authority to make any adjustments in compensation for you. One creative way to figure out the company's salary structure is to go through social networks life Facebook and connect with people already working in the company. Instead of asking what they're paid, just ask whether they think their salary is competitive with the market and find out how they like the work environment. You'll be surprised at how willing to share their experience with the company these connections are.

3. Be the last to speak. When it comes to negotiations, the first person who throws out a number is the person who generally loses. If you throw out a number that's lower than what they had in mind you are accepting less than you could have made and if it's too high, they may simply cut you from the list of candidates. If they do ask what your salary history is, try to explain that it may not be relevant since the last job you had may not have been in the same city, industry, or even job class. Additionally, the compensation you received may have included different benefits and perks than the one this new company offers. Instead you can tell them you feel confident the compensation could be agreed upon once you've both determined that you are the right person for the job.

If you've already reached this point, have your minimum salary in mind which includes consideration for the complete benefits package. Then ask them to explain what the compensation package for the position includes. At this point tell them you need some time to review the package in detail instead of taking the job immediately. This indicates you are not desperate for the job and that you may even have competing offers.

4. Once you're ready to re-discuss the compensation, you have a variety of options to start the conversation. The key is to highlight how you're the best fit for the job and that you would really like to work for the company, but you have one concern: the salary. You want to get the employer on the same team as you and get their help in solving this problem. It's no longer you versus the company, but you and the company versus this concern you have. You then want to ask them for suggestions and offer a few of your own solutions to the problem. It may not always center around money, it could be more weeks of vacation, including dependents on your health insurance plan, or a shorter performance review period where raises are considered. Here are some statements to begin the conversation:

"I do feel I can contribute in significant ways to this team but the one thing that I am concerned about is the compensation package. It was 10% lower than what I've made in the past. In working for your company I feel I could bring tremendous value by x, y, and z. What suggestions do you have that could make this work for both of us? "

"I had a chance to review the entire compensation package and feel it is a bit short of what I was expecting. I was expecting $5,000 more. In the past I've brought X-times my salary in the productivity/sales to the companies I've worked for. I know I can do the same for you. How can we make partnership fit both of our needs?"

5. THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT: Rehearse. An interview is like a presentation. And it is one that will determine your financial performance, so why not give it your best by rehearsing every aspect of it, especially the salary negotiation? Practice in front of a mirror, a friend, or a video camera. Then get some feedback so that you can go into this conversation with confidence. Give yourself a boost of confidence and Good luck!