Many folks miss the "golden opportunity" to go for more money when exploring a new position with their employer or interviewing for a new job. They sit patiently while the boss or human resource personnel evaluate their present salary and offer 3-5% more as a starting offer.

This is why it is critically important to plan your negotiation for more money BEFORE you go in for the performance review or job interview. The time you are most likely to really increase the pay in your envelope is when you are considering a new position. Once in a job, most of us are stuck with the 3-5% formula that barely covers inflation.

Here are tips for your next negotiation:

  • Delay salary and benefit negotiations for as long as possible in the interview process. You'll have more power to negotiate when the field of candidates has been reduced to just you.
  • Don't negotiate when the initial job offer is made. Simply thank the employer and express your enthusiasm for the job. Let them know that you need time to evaluate the entire compensation package.
  • Do your research. One of the greatest tools for any negotiation is information. Be sure that you have done a thorough job of determining your fair market value for the job you are seeking. What are the geographic, economic, industry and company-specific factors that affect the wages for the position?
  • Focus on the "negotiation" mindset. You don't have to be an expert negotiator to get a sweeter deal; you just need to know the rules and strategies of negotiation.
  • Never make demands. Instead, raise questions and make requests during negotiation. Keep the tone conversational, not confrontational.
  • Always ask for a higher salary than you are willing to accept. You want to be prepared for the employer to counter your proposal. When possible, try to show how your actions (once on board) will recoup the extra amount that you are seeking--through cost savings or better efficiencies.
  • Have a pay range in mind when asked, "What are you currently making?" Human resource specialists and managers often base an offer on your present salary. Don't give them a direct answer, instead identify a pay range that is at least $5,000-$10,000 more than your current income. Use a phrase such as; "I am looking for the mid to high $40's to make a change."
  • Don't be the first one to put a number on the table. Make them be the first person to put "a stake in the sand." This gives you an idea of what the position is worth to them and what their bottom line is. Remember, the first figure they put out will be a low-ball as they anticipate that there will be negotiation.
  • Never say yes to the first offer, even if it's great. It's like putting your house up for sale and it sells within the first week. You assume that you asked too little. If you jump at the first offer, it will be assumed that you would have settled for less, and next time it will be less.
  • Always counter any offer with a request for more money. By this time, they have already invested time and money in bringing you on board. Don't worry; they won't walk away from the deal. And you have nothing to lose.
  • When you agree to the money, don't quit-go after more. Don't forget other benefits to sweeten the deal. Additional vacation? Personal days? Flex time in the summer? Four-day work week? Cell phone? Laundry service? (I'm not kidding, some employers are doing that. Who, you ask? Ones who want to keep their employees).
  • Once the employer agrees to your compensation requests, the negotiations are over. You cannot ask for anything more -- or risk appearing immature or greedy.
  • Always be sure to get the final offer in writing. Be extremely wary of companies that are not willing to do so. Note: one advantage of writing a counter proposal letter is that you list the terms of the offer in your letter.

Remember: you will never get what you want...unless you ask for it.

Barbara Bartlein is the People Pro. For more tips to build your business and balance you life, please visit: The People Pro.


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