|"A Mistake That Could Cost You Thousands
By Deborah McGeorge
What ghastly error could very well cost you thousands of dollars annually? The answer to that question may surprise you: it is the failure to negotiate your salary and benefits before accepting a job. According to the experts, you can add approximately 10% to your income EACH YEAR by mastering the essential skill of negotiating. Learning a few ground rules will put you on the road to success:
Rule #1: Establish a bottom line. In advance, decide upon a salary by taking into account what the company's ranges are, what the market is paying for jobs in your field, and what you deserve based on your skills and experience. It also wouldn't hurt to analyze your budget to see how much income will be necessary to meet your expenses and to start building that nest egg. If accepting the job will mean relocating, take into consideration the fact that the cost of living varies greatly according to geographical area ($25,000 definitely won't go as far in New York City as it will in Chattanooga, Tennessee). Doing your homework can prevent you from making a horrendous blunder in this regard. Once you determine the salary you desire, Shhh! ... Keep that figure a secret.
Rule #2: Timing is everything. The easiest chance to get what you want comes at that moment when you know the interviewer wants to hire you, when you're sure he or she has enough information about you to determine your worth, and BEFORE you commit to accepting the job. For best results, please don't even consider negotiating until those three conditions have been met.
Rule #3: Watch your attitude. Be careful not to be so aggressive that you appear rude or overbearing. The interviewer will react negatively if he feels he is being pushed around. Balance your firmness with such non-threatening words as "idea," "suggestion," "perhaps," etc. Explain that you wish to work together to come to a satisfying compromise. Being adamant and stubborn may result in pricing yourself out of the job.
Rule #4: Know how far you can go. Determine just how much you want this job. If you really, really want it -- or really, really, need it --be careful not to get so carried away with negotiations that you jeopardize your chances of getting hired. If the job isn't your favorite choice, then you can take a few more liberties. Keep in mind that the lower the position, the less leverage you will have ... if you turn down the offer in such a case, the company can easily find someone else who will accept its terms.
Rule #5: Small things first. Try to get the employer to agree to some perks before you start negotiating the salary. This strategy will enable you to accumulate some valuables even before it's time to talk money. Otherwise, if you negotiate the salary first and the interviewer has to make a concession, it's unlikely that he will want to do so again when you ask for that perk or benefit -- which means you will end up sacrificing it.
Rule #6: Take notes. Gone are the days when a handshake meant a sure promise, so remember to take extensive notes on all settlements! You will need them for your Letter of Acceptance (to prevent misunderstandings) and for future raise negotiations.
Rule #7: Don't be the one to name the first figure. Unfortunately, almost all companies play a nasty little game -- they innocently ask you how much you want. Time and time again, job candidates fall face first into that trap. They say and/or write on the job application "$9.00 an hour." In 1.3 seconds, they have sabotaged themselves because the company will almost always try to get away with paying less. And who knows? Maybe they were planning to offer $10.00 per hour! The way to steer around that land mine is to GET THE INTERVIEWER TO TOSS THE FIRST FIGURE. A truism in the game of negotiating is this: the first person to name a figure puts himself at a distinct disadvantage. Don't let it be you.
Rule #8: Avoid nominating a specific sum of money. Whether the interviewer asks for your number or names one himself, do NOT say, "Well, I won't take a penny less than $9.00 an hour." You must avoid prematurely nailing down a specific dollar amount for these two reasons: (1) You want to show the employer how flexible you are, and (2) Your credibility will be damaged later when you're forced to move away from this number by the interviewer's negotiating tactics. Your safest move is to outline a salary range, such as "between $20,000 and $25,000, depending on my level of responsibility." The amount you tell him should be about 10% more than what you really want (and higher than your previous or current job). Without stopping, tell him why you deserve such earnings. For example: "I feel that my background and experience will allow me to contribute more to the company than the average candidate." "I think my skill level in the _________ field is higher than most other candidates. Therefore, I can save you time and money by being especially productive." Because you are such a valuable employee bringing with you many unique skills and talents, you are entitled to earn a satisfying income. Learning the dynamics of negotiating can help you put thousands and thousands of dollars in your pocket over the course of your career!
Study these eight rules, and practice them before you work the real deal. And most of all, don't doubt your abilities... You might surprise yourself with what you can actually accomplish if you just take a leap of faith. You'll never know if you don't try. As the saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained.""
<Note from JobFairy.com: Whenever someone calls me about a job, they ask how much I want. I say that it would depend on the job. I then ask them if the client gave them a range for the job. They will respond. Tell them that the range is OK - you understand they did their best. Make sure you get the top amount listed in the range. Conceal your chortles of glee that it's $20K more than your current salary. You will be able to do so by keeping in mind that the recruiter's keeping a good $10 - $50K in their kitty over the life of the contract that could have been yours.>