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Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating a Great Salary

Step-by-Step Guide to Negotiating a Great Salary

Kim Lankford | Monster Contributing Writer

Here’s a secret: Employers rarely make their best offer first, and job candidates who negotiate generally earn much more than those who don’t. And a well-thought-out negotiation makes you look like a stronger candidate — and employee.

“We found that those people who attempted to negotiate their salary in a constructive way are perceived as more favorable than those who didn’t negotiate at all, because they were demonstrating the skills the company wanted to hire them for,” says Robin Pinkley, coauthor of Get Paid What You’re Worth and an associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business.

You can start laying the groundwork for your salary negotiation even before the first interview. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

During the Interview Process

1. Do Your Research

Before the interview, learn about the company’s salary ranges and benefits as well as industry salary ranges. Also learn about the company, its competition and the industry. Then think about what you want from the job, both in terms of salary and benefits, as well as opportunity and upward mobility, Pinkley says. This information will become valuable during the interview and salary negotiation.

2. Don’t Talk Turkey Too Early

“You never win by talking about money early on,” says Lee Miller, author of UP: Influence, Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want. “The time to talk about money is when they’ve fallen in love with you.” Before that, you’re just one of many easily dismissed candidates. But once the employer has decided you’re right for the job, “it becomes an issue of, ‘how are we going to make this happen?’” Miller says.

3. Avoid the Salary Requirements Trap

Pinkley tells people to say: “I completely understand why this is an important issue — you’re trying to determine who you want to continue in this process, and it doesn’t make much sense to pursue candidates you aren’t going to get. Secondly, I know that the tendency is for people to lowball their salary range, because they don’t want to get out of the pool. My preference is to figure out, independent of these issues, the degree to which there is a good fit here and the extent to which I can bring value to this organization and the extent to which I’m going to be fulfilled and involved and committed to this position. I suggest we wait to have the salary conversation until you’re prepared to make an offer.”

If they still want a number, leverage your research to talk industry-standard ranges, not specific numbers.

NEXT: At Time of Offer