You just know this is the perfect job for you. You made it through that first interview, but now the next hurdle looms ahead–the dreaded salary negotiation. Whatever you do, don’t panic; you’re not alone. Others have done it successfully, and so can you.
“Salary negotiation is very critical in the hiring process,” says Anita C. Ervin, president of Linden, New Jersey-based Aces Employment Consultants. It takes a positive mind-set, planning and an informed approach to come out a winner in what Eral Burks, president of Minority Executive Search Inc. in Cleveland, likens to “a chess game.”
With so many qualified individuals battling for the few plum spots today, employers try to get the best for the least amount of money. Savvy negotiators have to be able to showcase their skills while citing the contributions they can make to the organization.
Take the case of 34-year-old E. Martin, who was a buyer for a small equipment manufacturing company in northern New Jersey. His base salary was $40,000, plus medical and dental benefits. Last year, the company relocated and Martin sought a job that would further his career and yield him an extra $10,000 per year.
He interviewed twice for a purchasing agent position at a major corporation in New York and was offered $46,000, plus medical and dental benefits and stock options. This, however, was the minimum package Martin was prepared to take. He countered with a request of $48,000, a company match on his 401(k) contribution, and deferred profit sharing and two weeks leave in the first year, as well as medical and dental coverage and stock options.
To bolster his point, he highlighted his 10 years of purchasing experience with private and government contractors in the high-tech and manufacturing industries. “I also stressed my supervisory skills and showed how I was able to transfer my experience in government purchasing to the corporate arena,” he says. Martin’s counter-offer was accepted. He had successfully negotiated a package worth well over $50,000.
Keep in mind these points as you spar your way to the salary you’re worth:
- First, research the firm in order to determine its profitability, longevity, your degree of leverage at the bargaining table and your scope for future earnings.
- Be positive in your attitude and approach.
- Be an equal participant in the negotiation process. Don’t assume that the company will look out for your best interest, warns Ervin.
- Don’t jump at the first offer. Granted, you may have been job hunting for a year but keep your senses in order to negotiate the best deal before accepting the job, not after.
- Try not to discuss salary in the first interview. However, advises Burks, should the interviewer broach the topic, you may counter by saying that the salary is negotiable. Ask the salary range and what the job entails before discussing a figure.
- Don’t ask for the stars. If a position is paying $40,000$ 50,000, don’t ask for $65,000. Know your worth, but also the market value of the position.
- Never give an exact figure; always give a range so that