The Art of Salary Negotiation
Salary negotiation can be tricky business in a job interview situation. Your job search could easily come to an end if you stick with the low-end salary jobs, or linger on for what seems like forever if you hold out for too much money! A good, middle-of-the-road number is a safe bet in many cases, but even with this approach, some still find themselves at a loss. How do you safely navigate the minefield of salary negotiations?
In most cases, the most important thing a job seeker can do is to prepare for the salary question happen long before the interview. Those who seek employment in a particular field owe it to themselves to do a bit of research before turning in applications or agreeing to an interview. What is a typical salary in your field? Is the field upwardly mobile? Are you willing to accept the answers?
When you find a company that is hiring in your field, there are two areas to do your homework in; what’s considered “industry standard” pay for that job, and what is typical for the local area where the company is located. Radio personality Howard Stern earns a massive paycheck for his daily show; the morning show jock at a small-town AM country station does not. Even so, it’s a safe bet that the small-town radio employee is making roughly about what his peers and co-workers make in that market. Context is everything.
You can research your field by doing online searches and comparing facts and figures; it’s also a good idea to call similar companies (not the one you applied to) and explain that you are looking for work in the area and ask what is considered acceptable pay for your skills. This will arm you with a good sense of what your skills merit when in salary negotiations. Chances are that you will run across someone willing to help; if not, keep looking until you do.
Once you are equipped with the information you need, you’re ready to go into the interview with an idea of what’s fair. If you have little-to-no experience, expect to be given a lower offer than someone who does have that experience. By the same token, don’t undervalue your potential contributions to the company. You may have to take a lower offer, but not an insulting or unreasonable one.
In the interview, it’s important to appear reasonable. Don’t draw a line in the sand over the salary; try to negotiate some room for a pay raise later if you aren’t hearing the figures you need. “I understand that my experience isn’t what it could be—but once I’ve been here, say, six months, and you see the contribution I’ve been making, would you be open to a renegotiation?” The key is to develop a good relationship, and not appear to be combative or inflexible. Finally, salary negotiation can be tricky, but with the right preparation and attitude, you can survive this difficult part of the hiring process and get the compensation you deserve.
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