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Dos and Don'ts of Salary Negotiation

How to Get a Better Offer or a Raise

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Most people wouldn't put salary negotiation high on their lists of desirable activities. Even though you may prefer getting a root canal to negotiating your salary, if you want to get paid what you're worth, you better learn how to do it right. These dos and don'ts can help you get paid what you deserve, whether you're entertaining a job offer or asking for a raise.

  • Don't Look at How Much Money Your Friends Are Making: You may be envious of your friends who are earning more money than you are. First of all, If they aren't working in the same field as you, it's impossible to make comparisons. Some occupations pay better than others. Even if they work in the same occupation, they may have more experience, different job duties or less desirable hours. Your friends may not have as much vacation time as you do or their benefit packages may not be as good as yours.
  • Do Research Salaries in Your Field: Because salaries vary so much by field, you will have to find out about average compensation in yours. Look at recent salary surveys, talk to people working in your field, and contact your trade or professional association to find out what others are paid for doing the same work. Remember that salaries differ by geographic region.
  • Do Consider How Much Experience You Have: Are you just starting out or have you been working in your field for a while? Those with more experience typically earn more money. Remember to talk about the amount of experience you have if it will help you negotiate a higher salary. If you don't have a lot of experience, be realistic about the salary for which you can ask.
  • Don't Talk About How Much Money You Need: When you are going through salary negotiations, don't tell your boss (or future boss) that you need to make more money because your bills are high, your house was expensive, or your child is starting college. This information is irrelevant to him or her. The only time you can use your expenses to negotiate is if your job is being relocated to a region in which the cost of living is higher and your employer is not offering a salary that takes that into account.
  • Do Talk About The Salary You Deserve: Your salary is based on what you have or will do to benefit your employer. Will you increase profits, help keep down costs, or get or retain clients? If you are negotiating with your current boss, highlight what you have done for the company or organization. When you are presenting your case to a potential employer, talk about what you will do to earn the salary you are requesting.
  • Do Be Flexible: When negotiating your salary, you may not get exactly as much money as you want. There's a good chance you will have to compromise. The trick is to figure out how much you are willing to bend and what you will do if your boss doesn't offer you a salary you find acceptable. Will you start looking for another job or will you turn down the job offer? If it seems like you can't get the salary you want perhaps there is something else the employer can do to sweeten the deal, like offer you additional time off or some other fringe benefit.

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