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Salary Negotiation for You and Me

by Bill Humbert

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Did you know that if you are looking for a salaried position, many times you may be able to stretch your dollars by negotiating a higher compensation package? Isn't that a great concept? How do you negotiate a higher compensation package? Note that the operative phrase is "higher compensation package" not higher salary.

As a recruitment consultant working with companies of all sizes, many times my clients were locked into a salary range that was initially lower than the current industry salaries. How did I advise them to offer the salary within their range and still attract the high performer? Well, before we go there, let's discuss the candidate preparation that attracts recruiters and companies.

  1. Obviously you need to work at a level that "exceeds expectations" on the annual review. "Meeting expectations" generally does not produce the required impacts unless you are in a company with exceptionally high standards.
  2. It is a good idea to create an effective LinkedIn profile. Effective means that it is complete with recommendations from co-workers and former supervisors/managers. Discuss position responsibilities and accomplishments. If you are in sales or marketing and have an anemic LinkedIn profile with few connections, discerning recruiters are passing you today.
  3. Prior to an interview with a company, research that company. Go over their website with a fine toothed comb. Candidates who research the company prior to an interview certainly do better on their interviews than those who don't. You want to include looking at their "News" pages to see if there is an acquisition or announced growth in an area where they may benefit from your experience.
  4. Develop stories from your past experience that demonstrate you have the ability to make those impacts in a new company.
  5. During the interview, it is fine to listen to the interviewer describe the position and responsibilities. Then say, "It sounds like you are looking for someone who has made impacts in...? Is that correct?" If so, then ask, "May I discuss areas of my background that demonstrate I have the skills necessary to make those impacts?" Then tell a story that demonstrates you can make those impacts. Humans remember stories better than lists.
  6. Related: 8 Dumb Interview Mistakes New Grads Make

  7. After your interview, make time to sit down and list your "Wish I would have said" thoughts. Those were the better examples to use in this situation. It just took your brain a while to figure it out. If you don't list them while you are thinking about the interview, you will forget them, guaranteed! You may use your "Wish I would have said" story during a second interview. More importantly, you may use them during salary negotiations.
  8. It is best not to reveal your current salary unless you feel it will keep you from proceeding through the interview process. There are several reasons not to reveal your current salary. The company may use that number to base their offer or screen you out (too expensive or not expensive enough). Instead of giving a number, suggest that it is putting the cart ahead of the horse. "Let's discuss the job and my qualifications first. Then we can discuss compensation."
  9. When an offer is extended and you are happy with the offer, the company, the position and the manager, accept the offer. The manager will be excited with your enthusiasm.
  10. Related: 6 Old Fashioned Tricks That Put You Ahead of the Tech Savvy Job Seeker

  11. When an offer is extended and you were hoping for more compensation, ask if there is flexibility in their offer? If they say, "Why do you ask?" The door is open for a quick discussion. At this point, you need to give them new information regarding your experience, not "I was hoping my spouse could stay home with the children." This is the time you use one of your "Wish I would have said" stories.
  12. Assure the company that you are very interested in the position and working for that manager. You were hoping for a little more compensation.

Companies are loathe to bring new employees above midpoint in their ranges, and especially loathe bringing them in at the top of the range. You may be able to negotiate a signing bonus, an extra week of vacation, or possibly the cost of COBRA coverage until the corporate health plan begins.

Keep a positive attitude through the salary negotiation process, use these tools, and generally you will be able to negotiate additional compensation.

Reviewed May 2017

Bill Humbert is a recruiting consultant with 30 years experience. His book RecruiterGuy's Guide to Finding a Job is available at RecruiterGuy.com.

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