Salary Negotiation Basics

Posted by The Editors on May 9, 2011
Salary Negotiation Basics
Many people see negotiation as a process of each party trying to get the most for what they have to give. And that's a reasonable way to look at it when you're buying or selling a car, a computer, or a carpet. It's tempting to look at job negotiations in the same way—but not advisable.

Shoot for Fair
When you're negotiating an employment contract, you're negotiating the basis for a relationship, and you want to live happily together. This doesn't mean that you have to arrive at a compromise, but that you should come to an agreement that both parties feel is fair.  

There are at least four factors that can increase your perceived worth. All of them fit into the context of networking and interviewing, and all of them can be turned to your advantage without alienating potential employers.  

1. How You See and Present Yourself
Are you confident? Do you speak convincingly about your accomplishments? Do you have a clear and credible objective? Do you understand and seem to fit in with the company's culture? You will generate more buyer enthusiasm if the company sees you as a long-term asset than if it sees you only as right for this particular job.  

2. How the Company Sees the Value of the Work to Be Done
This is your opportunity to put the work in a broader context than the company may see. Instead of talking about providing good customer service, for example, you might discuss retaining valued customers and increasing business activity. If you present some convincing illustrations, the job might seem worthy of a higher valuation—including, perhaps, a bonus for achieving objectives that you help define.  

3. How the Company Perceives Your Appropriateness for the Job
You want to demonstrate that what you've learned and achieved in the past, along with your understanding of the company's needs, makes you more qualified than other candidates.
4. How Your Discussion of Compensation and Benefits Plays Out
Your attention to the first three factors should already have raised the company's estimation of your value. The direct discussion—often thought of as the whole of negotiation—is where you apply your skills at recapitulation, listening, and politely asserting the value you have established.

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