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Negotiating for Success

Negotiating compensation is a touchy business. Many of us don't negotiate because weren't sure what our skills are worth. Or we fear we'll appear greedy if we ask to be paid more. And some of us feel we can only get what people offer us and would never consider asking for more.

Know what you want
To negotiate effectively, you have to start from a position of power. Know what your strengths are and expect to be paid for them. If you can't reach what you consider a fair compensation package, be prepared to walk away.

Determine ahead of time what your ideal compensation package is, as well as your rock bottom figure. Knowing what you want before you're put on the spot allows you to trade low-priority benefits for high-priority ones. It also prepares you for when you'll be asked to defend what you are asking for.

Negotiating for a new job
According to What Color is Your Parachute? salary for a new job shouldn't be discussed until the following conditions have been met:

  • They've gotten to know you and see how you stand out from there other candidates.
  • You've gotten to know them and can tell when they're being firm and flexible.
  • You know exactly what the job entails.
  • They know how well you match the job requirements.
  • You're at the final interview, in their office.
  • You've decided, "I'd like to work here."
  • They've said, "We want you."
  • They've said, "We've got to have you."

When to compromise
If you're preparing for a third of fourth interview with a prospective employer, you should be prepared to discuss salary and benefits. And you should also be prepared to know what details are most important to you and what you are willing to compromise. Salary isn't the only form of compensation you'll be receiving. Other important factors to consider:

  • Health benefits. They should be available to any full-time employee on the date of hire.
  • 401(k) plan. By allowing you to contribute pre-tax dollars into a 401k plan, this is the easiest form of retirement savings. Many people won't work for companies without 401(k) plans. Inquire about any company matching policies.
  • Vacation. Two weeks is standard, but three and four are not unheard of. Would you be willing to take more vacation time for less salary?
  • Bonus. Would you rather have a higher salary and a smaller performance bonus (if the company offers one)? Again, knowing your absolute salary limits will help you decide.
  • Hours. Are there set office hours or can you make your own? Can you telecommute from home a few days a week?



 

 

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