TARA WEISS, FORBES.COM
David Hoffman, the chief executive officer of the executive search firm DHR, in Chicago, recalls a client who was recently offered $100,000 less than he felt he deserved for a job. Instead of jumping at the offer because of the tough job market, the candidate, together with Hoffman, negotiated and managed to meet the company in the middle. They described the candidate’s unique fit for the job and the difficulty he’d have with his relocation to a more expensive city. They got the employer to boost the offer by $50,000.
Negotiating a pay rise in a tough job market can usually be done, as long as they want you in the first place.
“This is no time to roll over and just take what they give you,” says Ford Myers, author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.
// That’s partly because anyone who receives a job offer right now is clearly the best qualified for it. So many people are applying for every position that hiring managers have to comb through hundreds of résumés and interview dozens of candidates. After all that, they don’t want to go back to the interview process. They want you.
Also, when you negotiate in a respectful manner, you demonstrate the business skills they’ll want you to employ on the job. “Companies expect you to negotiate,” says Myers, president of Career Potential, a job consulting and coaching firm based in Philadelphia. “They’ll be disappointed if you don’t, since you’re hired to be smart and savvy when doing business dealings for their firm. They don’t want you to be a pushover.”
First, do your homework to find out exactly what the company needs in the role you’re applying for. If your background and the desired skills are a match, tailor how you present your experience to fit the position.
Never reveal how much you made at your last job. It has no relevance to your next salary, since the new position will be with a different company in a new set of circumstances. Also, never suggest a salary before they do. If you are asked, there are several ways you can deflect that question. Among your possible responses:
–“Salary is an important topic, and I’d be happy to discuss it once our mutual interest is established.”
–“If we decide I’m the right person for the job, I’m sure we can agree on compensation.”
–“At this time I’m most interested in determining if I’m the right person for the job.”
Don’t talk about salary at all until after you’ve been offered the job. But you should know what you are worth. Web sites like PayScale and Vault offer average salaries for thousands of positions. PayScale allows users to enter specific information such as geography, experience level, certifications and whether the job is with a nonprofit, government, a small business or a large company, to get as accurate salary data as possible.
Also, talk to people in like positions at similar companies to get a sense of what they make. Just make sure they’re in the same kind of business, says Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis for PayScale. An accountant at a nonprofit won’t make the same as one who works for a big corporation.
Compare what you find with what you’ve been offered. If your proposed salary looks too low, discuss your research with the hiring manager or human resources representative. You might say, “Based on what others in the role are making at similar companies, the 15 years of experience I bring to the job and the commitment I’d like to make to the company, I have to say I believe your offer is on the conservative side.”
Your ability to get the offer improved will depend a lot on how the company is doing financially. Public companies put their financial data on their Web sites, and you can search for it on sites like Yahoo! Finance as well. Learn all you can to know how persistent to be in negotiations.
“Are they in a place where they have some flexibility?” asks Al Lee. “Take GM. It’s probably still hiring for some positions that it needs to fill, but it can’t have much flexibility in pay at all.”
If your prospective employer isn’t able to offer a higher salary, suggest a signing bonus or ask to receive your evaluation and possible raise sooner than the typical one year.
Another way around is to start at a higher grade. Jobs are often given grades that come with assigned salary ranges based on experience and responsibility. The top salary for a lower grade can be the lowest salary for the next grade up. If you can negotiate starting at a higher grade level, you can get a raise without needing also to get a promotion.
If you do all this and the firm still won’t budge, consider taking the position as a bridge job. It’s always good to have something on your résumé, and you’ll be earning some salary and building professional connections. Just don’t get sucked in so that five years later you’re still there at the same pay.
Content supplied by: Forbes.com