Salary Negotiation

Two people arm wrestlingLet's say your first interview with a prospective employer leads to further discussions.

Congratulations. You are moving ahead in the process.

Next you may face additional interviews and, inevitably, a conversation about compensation.

If an employer asks how much you expect to be compensated, give a salary range instead of a definite number. Come to the interview prepared with knowledge of a reasonable salary range for the position.

Tools for Gauging Salary 

It's helpful to use career information websites to learn about the salary range for related positions.

Our Occupational Employment Statistics tool provides data on typical wages by occupation and region in the state. The data are used by employers as a benchmark for wages and by job seekers and students who are deciding on careers.

Our Occupations in Demand tool ranks occupations by demand for all regions in Minnesota and includes typical wage, training and long-term employment outlook.

CareerOneStop's Salary Tool provides salary information for more than 800 different occupations.

Contacting the personnel office or a networking contact that works in the company may provide some guidance about salary expectations.

Broaching the Salary Issue 

Let the employer bring up salary first and try to avoid the issue entirely in the initial interview.

Delaying salary negotiation as long as possible allows you to better understand what the position entails before the question of salary is addressed. It also gives you more time to articulate what you'll bring to the employer before an offer is made.

Negotiating Tips 

The next step is salary negotiation. It can set the tone for your work life and experience with the employer. These are some suggestions to consider when you receive a job offer. Negotiating is a two-way street. Try to achieve a win-win situation. It's up to you to decide which tips will work best for you.

Randall S. Hansen, a job negotiation expert, urges you to know the salary you can reasonably accept and expect, based on your experience and education and on industry wage standards.

Never attend a job negotiation without knowing the average salary range in your field and at the company where you're applying. Where you live matters, too. The larger the city and the higher the cost of living, the more likely you'll receive a bigger salary.

Express your appreciation and strong interest in the job. Request at least 24 hours to consider any offer, even if you're inclined to accept. Ask any questions you need clarified. Assess the job offer in terms of your needs, benefits and long-term career and life goals. Talk it over with someone you respect. Make a list of the pros and cons of the job offer.

"The job search these days drags on longer and longer. When you finally obtain that offer after weeks(and in some cases, months), it's not unusual to want to accept it right on the spot," writes Hansen. "But even the best offers should be reviewed when you have a clear head and without the pressure of your future boss or HR director staring at you. Most employers are willing to give you some time to contemplate a job offer typically several days to a week."

Make sure the job description is clear. Note your reporting relationships, authority and advancement potential. Keep asking questions until you clearly understand. Careful thought and consideration will only gain you respect.

If you want the job, make it clear to the employer. If you're uncertain, state there are some items you'd like to discuss before you can accept the job and suggest meeting further to talk about the offer.

Focus your negotiations on a couple of items that are priorities for you. Items that could be negotiable include salary, benefits, tuition, training and vacation time, as well as a flexible schedule, stock options, company car, onsite day care and parking privileges. A compensation package is not just a salary. It includes health care and many other benefits that may be of greater value to you than a higher salary.

Today, many job seekers want good health insurance more than any other benefit. Ask what policies are available to you with the employer and then, on your own, consider how much that insurance would cost you with another employer with a weaker policy.

If you want more vacation time or a more flexible schedule, you may have to give up a little compensation — and you will have to decide if that's a deal you can live with.

Negotiations should never become emotional or hostile. Use your value, skills, experience and education to negotiate. Listen carefully. If the offer is less than you expected, let them know and state you're still interested in the position if they want to reconsider their offer. Don't assume the first offer is fixed even if the interviewer tells you it is.

If the same figure is offered a couple days later you can ask for a salary review in six months to evaluate your performance to determine if a salary bump is in order. Or, you can turn down the job while maintaining cheerful relations by asking that they keep you in mind for future openings paying a larger salary.

When you reach an agreement, request a document in writing and study it to make sure it contains the agreed upon points. And then have a celebration.

Case Study 
Learn how Tom Bjorgum negotiated a high salary and bonus after doing some basic research on salaries in his profession. Read Tom's story.

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