Salary Negotiations — Know What You’re Worth

salary_negotiationsMost jobseekers don’t realize that almost half of all employers expect to negotiate salaries. But if you are interviewing for a job and you don’t initiate or pursue salary negotiations, you could be throwing away thousands of dollars.

Think of it this way: a higher starting salary pays you now and pays you later. You’ll get more cash up front and your annual raises will be based on the higher starting salary.

Put aside your notions that negotiating is simply asking for more money. Think of it as a process that benefits both parties. You get paid an amount you like, and your new employer gets a happy new recruit.

Because money seems like the biggest factor in accepting a job, exactly how much you’ll be bringing home can cloud your thinking when trying to decide whether or not to accept a job offer. I hope you never accept a job that you’re not enthusiastic about simply because the starting salary is a few thousand dollars higher than what you’re currently making. It’s more important to find a job that lets you do something you enjoy, and that puts your career on an upward path with long-range income potential.

Since salary discussions usually don’t happen unless you’re a serious candidate, you’re already in a position of strength. Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen.

Do Your Homework

You’ll be in an even stronger position of strength if you know what fair pay for your new job is. One of the easiest ways to find out salary information is online. Here are the best websites offering solid salary information.

  • The government’s Bureau of Labor and Statistics will give you wage data by area and occupation. A few clicks will tell you what different states pay for the same job, the projected growth for different occupations, what the requirements are for different jobs, and what they pay.
  • Salary.com offers free data as well as personalized salary reports for a fee. The site also posts advice about salary negotiations and advancing your career.
  • Payscale.com claims to be largest salary profile database in the world. It will give you a free salary report but requires you to contribute data in order to receive information.
  • Glassdoor.com asks that you to submit your resume to can learn about suitable jobs that are available and check the reviews of people who work there.
  • The Riley Guide Salary Guides & Guidance is loaded with links to online resources for comparing salary info, and advice on interpreting the data.
  • SalaryExpert.com has a neat feature. It lets you search jobs by pay range.
  • National Association of College and Employers is helpful for the new graduate. You’ll find an annual summary of employment outlook and starting salaries.
  • Robert Half International Salary Guides focus on jobs in accounting, finance, financial services, technology, legal, creative positions, and administrative jobs. The guides are published annually and include information about hiring and workplace trends.
  • Another way to research workplace compensation online is to do a Google search for “average salary for (job title).” This can sometimes lead you to more specific salary data for a profession.

Tip: When using sites like Payscale.com and Salary.com, compare job responsibilities, not job titles. A job title can mean different things at different companies.

Lastly, if you are relocating, part of your research should include cost-of-living adjustments. You’ll find the CNN Money Calculator is helpful for that.

Once You Know the Pay Scale…

Being educated about what other people earn at different companies, different occupations, in different parts of the country, you’ll be more confident and realistic in your negotiations.

When you negotiate salary in a job interview, you may not get all that you’re asking for. You may get only some — but that’s more than you started with. It’s extremely rare that a job offer is rescinded simply because you asked for more money.

So, dive in when asked about salary expectations. If you have a positive attitude and keep your tone friendly and civil rather than aggressive and demanding, chances are you and your new employer will reach a win/win solution.

Mir Garvy

Author: Mir Garvy

I’ve written resumes for 2,000+ job seekers just like you—and helped my clients land jobs with companies like Amazon, SAS, Google, Duke University, Travelocity, Cisco Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Expedia, and IBM.