How to negotiate a salary

There’s no question about it; when you’re looking for a job, you’re very interested in what the potential salary will be. After all, that’s one of the major reasons that you’re looking for a job. However, you have to remember when you’re interviewing that:

A. The employer is less interested in what to pay you than they are in whether they should pay you.

B. The goal of interviewing is not to negotiate a salary; it’s to get a job offer. As a general rule, you want to avoid being the one to bring up the salary question, and you absolutely shouldn’t bring it up during the first interview. By bringing up the question of salary in the first interview, you are saying that you care more about the salary than you do about working for the company.

Even if that’s true, that is not the impression that you want to send. So just sit back, answer their questions, make sure that you talk about how you’ll benefit the company, and wait for them to bring up the salary. When it is finally time to talk money (preferably after the employer has brought it up), you want to avoid throwing out a hard number first. By making the first move, the salary negotiations become them trying to talk you down. When they make the first move, the salary negotiations can be you talking them up.

A good strategy to follow if asked what you expect to make is to say your current or last salary. This gives them a feel for the general ballpark you’re looking for, but doesn’t lock you into anything. You can also ask questions like what do you feel someone with my experience is worth, or what did you have budgeted for this position? And remember. We’re in the midst of a recession. Companies can’t necessarily afford the salaries they could a few years ago. Many of them are lucky to be hiring at all, so be patient and don’t negotiate so hard that you scare them off. You can always ask for a raise later.

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