When negotiating your salary, you can make or lose a thousand dollars a minute by how you handle the negotiation. You have power to influence your salary and/or benefits from the time that the employer wants to hire you until you accept the job. Here are some tips for making the most of your negotiation opportunity:
- 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. You must know this in order to negotiate effectively. Here are resources for researching job salaries.
- 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.
- 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 question. 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.
Here are examples of employer questions and potential responses:
Employer: “What are your salary requirements?” or “What do you think you are worth?”
You: "Mr. Employer, of course salary issues are important to me, but at this point I'm more concerned with whether or not I'm the right person for your position and whether the job and company are the right fit for me. Once we determine if I'm the right person, I'm sure that we can come up with a salary amount that would be satisfactory for both of us."
Employer: “What is your salary history?” (See page 60 for additional responses to this question.
You: “My salary has increased steadily. I can give you specific figures if that’s necessary, but it would take me some time to figure it out.” (You can then add something like: “What is the salary range for this position?”)
Employer: “What did you make in your last position?”
You: “My salary was approximately $_____ (per hour or per year, whichever is more appropriate for the position). I was working at a non-profit organization that is dependent on donor support. My labor market research indicates that the typical range for this type of position is approximately $____ to $____.” (You can add a question such as, “What is the salary range for the position in this company?”)
Employer: “Would you be willing to take less money?”
You: “If you and I feel that I’m a good fit for this position, I’m sure we can come to agreement on an appropriate compensation package.”
Employer: “So, what kind of salary are you looking for?”
You: (Option 1: Ask the employer to state a range first): “I am looking for a salary that is appropriate for the level of skill and experience that I would bring to the job. What range do you have in mind?” Or (Option 2: Give a direct answer that allows room for negotiation): "Mr. Employer, depending on the company, the job and the responsibilities of the position, I'm looking for a salary range between 45,000 and $55,000."
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