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Roll The Dice

Roll the dice. You can negotiate salary!

When you purchase a car, would you always pay the sticker price? Have you ever purchased a home and made an offer that was less than the asking price? If you negotiate in these situations, then why wouldn’t you negotiate a salary offer? When an employer offers you a job, they have eliminated others and selected you. You are the person they want. It is not unusual to increase an initial offer to a more attractive package through effective negotiating techniques. So roll the dice. It costs you nothing and may result in a substantial increase in income. A $3,000 difference from an initial offer to a final negotiated salary will increase your 5-year income by over $15,000. It is highly unlikely you will lose an offer by attempting to negotiate for yourself. Most people substantially underestimate their value in the marketplace. Do your research. An excellent resource to help you determine your market value may be found at

The first rule, never reveal your current or most recent income and don’t disclose what salary you expect or desire. Don’t put it on your resume and don’t divulge it in an interview. Questions on an application regarding past or current salary should be answered by writing “will discuss in interview,” and where it asks for desired salary, answer with “negotiable.” Often these questions are used to eliminate candidates. If the figure you give them is too high, you may not be affordable and they will probably lose interest. If the figure is too low, it may raise questions regarding your competency or limit the amount of money the company will offer. For example, if an employer has a budgeted range of $50,000 to $60,000, and you tell them you have been earning $48,000 or are looking for $50,000, it is unlikely that they will offer you $60,000. If an offer is made by telephone, don’t accept it. Instead, indicate strong interest in working for the company, and set an appointment to discuss it. This allows you time to get your emotions together and plan a negotiating strategy. If an offer is made during an in-person interview, show strong enthusiasm and desire to move forward, then ask for time to consider the offer. Call back within one to two days to arrange a meeting to negotiate and finalize the offer. Your best gambit is to get them to make you an offer, to throw out the first numbers.

We offer the following guidelines:

  • Get the company to make an offer rather than asking for one.
  • Never say, “I need at least ---- dollars.” Rather, ask them “what is your salary range?” Remember that negotiating is like the game of poker – you never expose your hand.
  • Try to settle on a base salary first, then go on to the bonus and benefits.
  • Attempt to negotiate a bonus based on personal performance with measurable objectives as opposed to a discretionary bonus.
  • If the employer has little or no flexibility try to agree on an early review, or gain an agreement on a merit increase after three or six months. This may make up for a lower initial salary while you demonstrate your worth.
  • Never accept a position when first offered. You are making a vital career decision and need time to review the offer and how it will impact your life, your career path, and your family.
  • If you really want the opportunity, then show strong desire and excitement, but be neutral about the compensation offered.
  • Discuss the offer with your family, they are your support team, and they care about you.
  • Once a final agreement has been reached, ask for a commitment in writing outlining your title and responsibilities as well as your compensation package. This will prevent later misunderstandings or disagreements. This will also give you a few days to consider the offer.
  • Be flexible. Remember both you and the company are looking for exactly the same thing; to form a partnership where your skills are exchanged for a fair wage.
  • If you cannot be effective at negotiating your value to a company, your ability to negotiate for your company may be in doubt.
  • Always have a pleasant attitude. Never be arrogant, over aggressive, or unreasonable.
  • When negotiating consider the following points: commissions or draw; performance bonus; stock options; equity opportunities; automobile or car allowance; insurance package options including life, health, disability, and dental; retirement programs; profit sharing; travel and business expense reimbursement; relocation packages including spousal job hunting assistance, points on a house, and bridge loans; cost of temporary housing during the relocation process; vacation policy; contractual agreements; and letters of commitment.

Remember that although money is important, so is the quality of your working environment, your happiness on the job, your ability to gain personal satisfaction, and your ability to continue growing as a professional. Remember also, the wisdom of an old Yiddish Proverb, “with money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.”

- Lawrence Alter

Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques. Send ideas or questions via email to: Website address: www.EmploymentClinic. © Copyright 2006 Lawrence Alter. All rights reserved.

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