What You Need to Know to Negotiate the Best Salary

It’s a good idea to brush up on your negotiating skills and figure out what elements of a new position’s compensation are negotiable.

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If there was ever a time to negotiate from a position of strength with a potential employer, this is it.

With a growing number of vacancies and a scarcity of talent in today’s job market, you’ll be holding a few more cards when it comes time to discuss your compensation than you would have a couple of years ago.

Just how crazy have things become?

According to a story on CNN, a surprising number of job candidates are not only bailing on scheduled interviews but some new hires aren’t even showing up for their first day of work because they’ve found something better somewhere else.

Based on the new reality, it’s a good idea to brush up on your negotiating skills and figure out what elements of a new position’s compensation are negotiable.

There used to be a lot of secrecy surrounding salaries and pay scales but companies are increasingly making this kind of information available. You should be able to get a good idea of what kind of salary might be offered to you with a minimum of digging. Start by looking online.

There are sites where you can find salary information based on title, geography, education and experience like Salary.com, PayScale or Glassdoor.com. Another helpful resource is the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook where you’ll find information on roles, education, and pay for hundreds of occupations.

Once you know that a company wants to hire you, don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth. They expect it. What they’re offering you is just that—an offer. If they don’t say it’s their final offer, then it’s safe to assume it’s their first offer.

Before you begin to negotiate, understand how much risk you can tolerate. If you want to earn $130,000 a year and they’re offering $120,000, you might counter with $140,000. You have to know what you’re looking for and how far you can push on salary. If you discover there’s not a lot of wiggle room with salary, switch gears to other forms of compensation, including increased vacation time and other perks, including a company vehicle.

Here are three tips to help you negotiate the best compensation package:

Know your worth. There’s no excuse for going into a salary negotiation unaware of what you’re worth on the open market based on your skills, experience and education. Do your research and check online resources that can give you a clear picture of where you plug into the salary and benefit ladder for almost any position.

Know your potential employer. Just as you can dig up valuable information about your own worth, so, too, can you find important information on the current financial state of the company or organization offering you the job. Financial reports, industry reports, news releases and stories in traditional news outlets can be valuable resources for determining the current financial health and future prospects of any potential employer.

Pick the right moment to negotiate. Although you may be asked early on in a job interview process for your salary expectations, be cautious. It’s possible to negotiate yourself out of a great job if you want more than the employer is willing to pay. It’s crucial to hold back some of these expectations until you know definitively that you’ll be offered the job. Once that’s confirmed, the door to productive negotiation will be open.

So, this is a great time to negotiate with a potential employer because it’s a seller's market. The more research you do on the value for someone like you in the job market, as well as the financial situation of a potential employer, the better chance you’ll have of maxing out on your offer.

With our salary calculator, it couldn’t be easier to find average salaries for the job you currently have, or the job you really want. Find out the salary you should expect: Salary Calculator. Simply select a job title, a location and click search, and we’ll deliver comprehensive salary insight that includes salary ranges, total cash compensation and variances by company.

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