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10 Best Tips to Win Salary Negotiations

Always beaten in the negotiation game? Here's a list of must-dos to gain the upper hand in bargaining sessions.

You know you're good. You've got the skills, the experience and the expertise to do the job well. Despite this, how come you always seem to be on the losing end in salary negotiations?

The article "Avoid Salary Negotiation Pitfalls" identifies two types of candidates that lose out the most at the negotiating table. One type has been with a company for five-plus years and doesn't know his worth. The other is the applicant who doesn't know the details of her compensation package and can't compare it against what is being offered.

As a consequence, they are often at a distinct bargaining disadvantage, unable to get the upper hand and finding themselves bulldozed into accepting an unsatisfactory salary offer.

If you're one of these hapless folks, don't lose hope. Take to heart these expert pointers on successful negotiating and be a better match for the employer in the next standoff.

1. Get updated on salary rates.
It may seem strange, but a lot of candidates still go to an interview with only the vaguest idea of the going market rates for their positions. Conduct a bit of sleuthing and networking beforehand to have a stronger playing hand in the negotiating game.

2. Assess your value.
Ask yourself what you are worth. Write down your skills, abilities, talents, and knowledge, and be prepared to show your future employer the benefits you can bring to their company. Understandably, the recruiter will try to get you for as little as possible, and it is up to you to convince them you're worth much more than that.

3. Don't divulge salary info.
Don't tell a potential employer what your present or most recent income -- or your expected/desired salary for that matter -- is too early in the game. That is, not until you receive a definite job offer. Never state your salary history or expectations in your resume either. Say instead that you're "willing to discuss in an interview" your present salary or that your desired income is "negotiable." Why this need for caution? Once you expose yourself, you're less efficient at negotiating your value to a company, compensation experts say.

4. Discuss income ranges, not specifics.
The rationale for this is to give you some room to maneuver. If you ask for a specific salary that falls below the company's minimum budget, the employer may just give you the lowest possible rate for that position. If you oversell yourself, you may turn out to be too expensive for their taste. Better: Be flexible and talk in ranges, going for an offer in the middle to the high end of the spectrum.

5. Don't be ashamed to negotiate.
If you're shy about selling yourself, don't be. Potential employers look favorably on aspirants who aren't afraid to negotiate, since it shows the jobseeker knows about current market rates and puts a high premium on herself -- surely positive qualities of awareness and self-confidence.

6. Bide your time.
What if you're finally given an offer? The cardinal rule is: Don't rush. Offers made over the phone, in particular, shouldn't be accepted. Insist on a face-to-face meeting to discuss details. If the offer is made in person and isn't what you had hoped for, refrain from speaking for a while to indicate to the employer that you are not happy with the package. It just may prompt the interviewer to raise his offer. Then ask for a day or so to "think the offer over" and request for another meeting to finalize discussions. Be enthusiastic but noncommittal.

7. Explore your options.
If the company states flatly that their offer is final, find out if they can offer non-monetary perks instead, such as allowances, bonuses, performance raises, stock options, profit sharing and the like. Or you can ask for a promise of a raise -- which should be given in writing, of course. Or if the offer is really hard to swallow, ask if they'd consider other work arrangements including part-time or consultancy work.

8. Set your absolute limits.
Here is where your prep work comes in handy. You earlier evaluated your worth and computed the compensation you'd be comfortable with. Now decide whether the offer is one you can live with.

9. Learn from the past.
Practice makes perfect. Look back on each negotiation and extract the lessons that can help you become a stronger negotiator the next time around.

10. Money isn't everything.
We all want to get paid well, no doubt, but don't obsess over money. The salary aspect shouldn't be your all-consuming concern. Don't be blinded by the financial aspect and grab a high-paying job that could later turn out to be a dud because you get no satisfaction and sense of achievement from it.




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