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How To Get the Salary You Want: Twelve Negotiation Tactics That Work

Ed Brodow

Many of us dislike negotiating because we are afraid of being taken advantage of, especially when we believe we are in a weak position. Salary negotiations provide a classic example. Has the fear of rejection – of losing the job or antagonizing your boss – kept you from putting your best foot forward in negotiating your livelihood? Here is a 12-step process for negotiating your salary without fear.

1. Study the situation. Before negotiating your salary or asking for a raise, do research. What is the organization’s policy on salaries? Have they established a range for your position? What are other people in comparable positions inside the organization being paid? What do other companies pay for this position? How important are you to the organization? If others are being paid more, and you are a key employee, be assertive (See#5). If the policy is not to pay what you want, and you’re replaceable – be prepared to walk (See #12)

2. Know what you want. This may sound simplistic, but in reality many people negotiate for a salary without having a clear idea of what they want. First of all, what is your goal, i.e., how much will you be satisfied with? Second, what is the most you think the position will pay – the maximum? It may be more than your goal. If it is, you might begin by asking for more than you want (See #7). If the maximum is less than your goal, is it acceptable? What is the least you will accept – your bottom line? Once you establish your bottom line, be prepared to walk if you can’t get it (See #12)

3. What is important to you besides money? Are you willing to accept more intangible rewards, e.g., vacation time. flexible hours, working from home, bigger title, more responsibility, stock options, pension plans, bigger office, etc. Don’t forget to consider these items as part of the overall salary picture.

4. Make special time. Don’t discuss your salary as an afterthought at the end of a meeting. ("Oh, by the way, there’s something else I’d like to discuss with you.") Give this subject the attention it deserves. Arrange a special meeting that will focus on your salary. Get the boss to commit to a block of time.

5. Be assertive – ask for the order. Don’t be afraid of losing the job. Ask for what you want. "I think I’m worth more than you are offering/than I’m being paid." If they don’t agree, maybe you don’t belong there. The result is always positive. Either you get paid what you think you’re worth, or you discover that this isn’t the right organization for you and maybe you ought to look for a better job.

6. Get the employer to make the first offer. If you’re interviewing for the job, ask, "How much does this position pay?" If you’re negotiating for a raise, ask, "How much of a raise can you approve?" They may surprise you by offering more than you expect. If they offer less, or they insist that you name a figure, ask for more than you want (See #7).

7. Open with an extreme position. Ask for more than you are willing to accept – you can always settle for less. If you open the negotiation with your goal – what you’ll be satisfied with – the employer may interpret this as your opening move and they will offer you less. When you ask for more than you want, (a) you may get it, or (b) you can eventually settle closer to your goal. If they say, "The salary range for this position is x to y," you can (a) go for the high end of the range, or (b) challenge the range by explaining how you are an exception.

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