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Look! It’s the job you want! It’s perfect! The work you’ll be doing, the reputation of the company, the title, location, everything! Wait, what? Not everything? The salary isn’t quite what you were hoping? Well, this scenario is commonly faced by job seekers and here’s some advice on what to do about it.
- Nothing personal. No, really, don’t refer to anything personal. Not your personal needs, not what your personal opinions are or why you personally believe you’re special. We understand this may be difficult because salary is personal to you. However, your salary is only business to the company, just another financial decision. Don’t, as the saying goes, get it twisted.
- Research. Research the company (including its financial health) and the industry. Conducting salary research is critical and there are numerous resources available to job seekers for that information (e.g., www.salary.com). Have a clear understanding of the normal as well as acceptable pay range for the job you’re pursuing.
- Who Are You? We all know that we have to convince the interviewer(s) that we possess the requisite education, training, skills and background for the position. Chances are you do. However, chances are that every other candidate that sits across from the person interviewing you does too. If your salary requirement is higher than that of the others the company is considering, you’ll likely be passed over, all other things being equal. So tilt the scales in your favor. Make them not equal. Distinguish yourself from those competing for the same job by demonstrating behaviors (professionalism, enthusiasm, resourcefulness, etc.) that establish you as a superior candidate worth the additional money.
- Timing is everything. And patience is a virtue. Many job seekers are unsure at what stage of the process to raise the issue of salary. During the interview? After the job has been offered? There is no single right answer. However, you’re probably best served by waiting until the job has actually been offered to you. It’s best not to bring up numbers during the interview itself. If you’re asked what your salary requirements are, simply reply that they are based on the particulars of the position itself, the overall compensation package and that you probably need more detail about the duties and responsibilities of the position and what routes of advancement are available to someone in this job.
- Why you’re worth it. When you’re making your case for the salary you’re requesting, remember what we said about not making it personal. Approach this task (because that is, after all, what it is) in the same manner as you would if you had to justify the costs of a project you’re advocating. Discuss both the immediate and long term value you will bring not just to the position or the department but to the organization as a whole.
- Plan B. If the company is just not prepared to pay you what you’re asking, consider whether you’d be willing to accept some substitute to make up for the lessor wage amount. For example, will the company negotiate on such items as the waiting period for benefits for health insurance coverage or employer-sponsored education and training to assist in career advancement?
- Hubris diminishes wisdom. Yes, job seekers want to show interviewers how well-suited they are for the position. However, discussions about your salary are probably not the best time to show off your ruthless negotiating skills, especially if the person you’re negotiating with will also be your supervisor. Keeping it conversational, not confrontational, will keep things from going south and keep you from talking yourself out of a job.