Many companies are quite cagey about revealing the salary, or even the salary range, of the positions they have open. That lack of transparency and relevant information leaves many job seekers in the dark and makes it that much harder for them to find a good job that meets their financial needs.
When salary is discussed, it is often during the course of the interview. Unfortunately, many job seekers arrive at the interview unprepared to discuss salary at all, let alone ask for higher pay during the meeting. Taking some time to prepare before the interview can put you in a much better position, and possibly yield you a better salary as well.
Know the market
No matter what type of job you are going for, it is important to know the going rate. Every job, from janitor to CEO, has a median salary and a salary range. These statistics are published on government websites like the one maintained by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those government websites are a great place to start, especially if you are entering a new field.
Keep in mind that your own level of experience will impact what you can expect to make. If you are fresh out of school and lack experience, you can expect to start at the lower end of the salary range. If you have in-demand skills and many years of experience, you may be able to ask for a higher salary.
The state of the job market also plays a role in what you can expect, and how much negotiating power you will have during the interview. If unemployment is low and your skills are in high demand, you may have the upper hand when it comes to negotiating a salary. But when the job market is sparse and job seekers are plentiful, your negotiating powers may be significantly reduced. You need to keep all of these facts in mind as you approach the delicate process of negotiating a higher salary.
Broaching the Subject
In some cases the interviewer will initiate a salary discussion, especially if the interview goes well. If the interviewer intends to extend a job offer on the spot, he or she may ask about salary you expect. If the subject comes up, you can use the salary range information you have gathered to name an acceptable pay scale. It is often better to name a higher salary than what you actually find acceptable. That gives you more room for negotiation without compromising or settling for less than you feel your skills and experience are worth.
Be prepared to back up your salary demands with information about your skill level and years of experience. The more you able to demonstrate your value to the company the more successful your salary negotiations will be. Even in a tight labor market, companies are willing to pay more for the right skills, and it is important not to sell yourself short!
Negotiating a salary is a trick proposition, but those negotiating skills can yield you thousands of dollars a year. Taking the time to research the job market and the salary range for your skill set is the best way to make sure the job offer you receive is a fair one for you and your new employer.
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