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Don't fear salary negotiation

Call to Action: Sharing Your Salary Expectations

By Randall Hansen / March 23, 2016

When your interviewers ask you to share your salary expectations, how should you answer? If you start too high, you may close the door on a great opportunity. But if you start too low, you’ll leave money on the table. What should you do?     During your interview, your employers will need to assess your readiness for the position in question. This will only provide half of the information they need in order to make a hiring decision. Once your qualifications are out of the way, they’ll determine whether or not they can afford you.   You may be the greatest candidate in the world, but — no matter how brilliant you are — most savvy managers would like to pay you the lowest salary you’re willing to accept. At some point, the tone of your interview will shift from evaluation to negotiation.   Let the games begin.  

How employers assess your expectations

  When this moment arrives, some employers will choose a common way to get to the heart of the matter: They’ll ask you what you’re making at your current job (or what you made in your last position). This move works especially well when it’s used on entry level candidates who don’t have much negotiation experience. By simply putting you on the spot and asking, point blank, for your current salary data, your interviewers can close the books by offering you exactly this amount, plus one dollar (so to speak). Who are you to say no? The offer on the table is better than what you have, right?  

But you don’t have to answer this question

  Here’s a simple fact about this aspect of the negotiation process that many younger candidates don’t know: You don’t have to share this information. Unless you’re a government employee and your salary is publically available, this number is your business. Your interviewers can’t force you to answer. So, don’t answer. Provide a range instead. No matter how the question is phrased, answer with a range from the lowest you’ll consider (you’re not bound to accept this figure if it’s offered) to the highest.   

Research will prepare you for negotiation

  Of course, you’ll have more leverage and confidence during this process if you spend some time online beforehand. Do some exploring to identify a reasonable set of expectations that account for your experience level, industry, and region. Base your chosen range on the averages and medians that your research reveals; don’t base it on what you’ve made (or not made) in the past. The past is past, and it should play no role in this conversation.  

But I don’t want to be rude!

  If you’re asked a point-blank question, it might feel awkward to ignore it. Don’t worry because it is 100% okay to do just that. This discussion isn’t personal, it’s business. And second, a diplomatic tone can mitigate this concern. Here are a few examples that can help you frame a polite response in the midst of your negotiation:   Employer: Tell me what you made at your last job.   You: Well, this job differs from my last position in several ways, so I’ll give you a range instead.   Employer: I assume that in your last position you made about $45,000 per year. Is that correct?   You: Right now I’m looking for something in the mid-sixties, between $64,000 and $68,000.  

What happened to “the first person who states a number loses”?

  That’s right in some ways, but don’t take this advice to the letter. The first time you’re asked to provide a number (or range), you can respond by asking your employer to share the budgeted amount for the position. When you’re asked a second time, you can push for more information about the job and the weight of your responsibilities.. But you can’t do this all day. Sooner or later, you’ll need to answer and allow the give-and-take negotiation process to begin. When that time comes, trust yourself, your research, the value of your skills, and share your range with confidence.   For more on how to negotiate for the salary you deserve, explore the tips and guidelines available on Quintcareers.   Image courtesy of
How to Ask For an Overdue Raise

How to Ask for an Overdue Raise

By Randall Hansen / October 7, 2015

  Employers appear to be thriving in the post-recession economy, but worker salaries aren't keeping pace. If your salary isn't rising fast enough to keep up with your expenses, it's time to get the raise you need and deserve.   At the peak of the recession, unemployment hovered around 10 percent and stagnant wages cut deep into the financial stability of households struggling to keep up with the rising cost of basic expenses.   Fortunately, the worst of the downturn is well behind us. So far, 2014 was the best post-recession year for the job market and the average American household. Employers added about 2.95 million new jobs, and unemployment rates dropped to about 5.2 percent. In 2015, the positive growth curve continues to snake upward, but a stubborn problem remains: across multiple industry sectors, salaries have not been keeping pace with the increase of opportunity nor the rising cost of living.   If your salary seems to be caught in a holding pattern and your annual raises have stalled or disappeared altogether, what should you do? How can you convince your boss to bring your wage growth back on track?   Keep these considerations in mind.  

Things Won't Change on Their Own

  No matter how well you get along with your direct supervisor or how much you contribute to the company using your talents and your hard work, one fact remains: Your employer will happily pay you the lowest salary that you're willing to accept. If your salary is too low to meet your needs or compensate for your contributions, this affects no one in the company but you. Until you speak up, nothing will change. Don't expect favors to fall from above, and don't assume that the moment company profits begin to rise, you'll feel the effects at your level. A salary increase will require action on your part.  

Consider your Leverage

  Again, if you request a salary increase, your employer will need some convincing. At the very least, the matter will be investigated, and the investigation will begin with one question: Why? Why should you be paid more? In order to answer, you'll need to free yourself from your dependence on this job. What can you do to increase or demonstrate your value to other employers? Could you easily find another job? What are the market rates for your specific talents and skills? Where would you turn if you had to find work elsewhere? Are you willing and able to go back to school to expand your skill sets? Recognize your options – but don't threaten your employer with these - and you'll increase your bargaining power.  

Set the Rules

  Before you approach your boss, know exactly what you plan to say, know the exact amount you intend to request, and know exactly how you'll respond in the event of a no. Don't simply place the conversation in your supervisor's hands and place yourself at the company's mercy. Make your expectations clear and establish a clear course of action if the company ignores your request or gives you the runaround. For example, if your boss answers by saying something vague like, “I'll look into it,” clarify how long this will take so you can set a date for a follow-up meeting.  

State, Don't Ask

  When you request your salary increase, recognize that you're “asking” for something that technically belongs to you. You've earned this increase; it isn't a benevolent favor. Make sure this shows in your confident body language. Make your request in a seated position, during an established meeting session. Don't chase your boss down the hallway blurting your request while competing with other distractions and demands. During your meeting, make clear eye contact and prevent your sentences from rising in pitch at the end as if you're turning your statements into questions. Be ready to share the research that led you to the number on which you've settled, and be prepared to prove how you've added value to the company.   --- For more information about getting a salary bump, visit QuintCareers Getting the Raise You Deserve page.

Top 3 Salary Negotiation Mistakes Made by Job-Seekers

By Randall Hansen / February 24, 2015

Caution: Job-seekers who make these salary negotiation mistakes can appear greedy at best, and lose the original job offer at worst. Do not make these costly negotiation errors!


Top Salary and Job Offer Negotiation Mistakes


  1. Trying to Change the Entire Offer. Most employers are will to negotiate some aspect of a job offer, but all employers will be offended if you try and negotiate every aspect of the offer. (Generally speaking, if you have done your research on the employer, then the offer should not be that far off from what you expected.) Do not be greedy.


    Your plan, upon receiving a job offer, is to thank the employer for the offer and ask for time to review all elements. You should never either accept or reject an offer immediately. If not given the offer in writing, this is also a good time to ask for all the details of the offer in writing.


    Once you have the written offer and you decide it's not exactly what you want, choose just a few items to attempt to negotiate. Review one technique for negotiating here: Job Offer Too Low? Use These Key Salary Negotiation Techniques to Write a Counter Proposal Letter.


    Note, while some employers will state upfront that they will not negotiate salary, they have often very open in negotiating other aspects of the job offer, such as job title, start date, early salary review, bonuses, life insurance, vacation days, relocation allowances, profit-sharing, and the like.


  2. Attempting to Make Additional Changes to Offer After Successful Negotiation.. A classic mistake of inexperienced job-seekers is too quickly asking for a change in the job offer -- and receiving it -- before realizing that there are other problems with the job offer.


    You have only one shot at negotiating a better job offer. It's not like buying a car where you can go several rounds with the salesperson until you get the best deal. In job-hunting, the employer makes an offer, you accept or reject or counter with a modification of the employer's original offer, and the employer then accepts (completely or partially) your counter or rejects it. There is no other round of negotiations.


    Again, the lesson here is to take time to review the original job offer and then decide what, if any, aspects you will attempt to negotiate.


  3. Focusing Solely on the Salary While Ignoring Other Aspects of Offer. Salary is very important, but it is only one aspect of the compensation package -- and if you have done your research correctly, the salary offer should not be too far off from what you expected -- or asked for.


    (Whatever you do, do NOT have unrealistic expectations about your worth in the marketplace -- or you will never be satisfied with any job offer you receive. Use these salary tools to assist you.)


    In fact, some employers with great compensation packages sometimes offer lower salaries... so even if the salary is a bit lower than you expected, examine the value of the total package before dismissing the offer. For example, review our Comparing Two or More Job Offers.


Finally, remember that at any point in the negotiation, the employer may either withdraw the offer completely or attempt to force you to stick to the original offer. If you decide to negotiate, you must do so with the mindset that you can either walk away from the offer and/or risk losing it entirely.


See also our article, Salary Negotiation Do's and Don'ts for Job-Seekers.


Authored by Dr. Randall Hansen




4 Reasons and Ways to Go for a 10 Percent Raise

By LiveCareer / February 16, 2015

Guest Post by Pat Katepoo

  Are you a mid-career professional who's overdue a decent pay raise? It's time to take action, and this is the year (2015) to go big. These are my reasons.  

1. If Your Salary is 10%+ Below Market Value

  When I talk about my clients getting pay increases of 10% or more, for most of them, it's because their salary was that far below market value. Using third-party market data, they were able to make a convincing case for a Competitive Pay Raise or a Salary Adjustment.


2. If You Can Make a Case for Combining Various Types of Pay Hikes

  If your salary is below market value, e.g., by 5%, start there. Add 2% for cost of living (2015), plus a merit raise of 3% (US average, 2015). Combinations and percentages will vary, of course, but you get the idea. Will you get the full 10%? Probably not all of it, but if you've made your case based on the merits, you'll likely get more than what your employer originally planned to grant you. Which brings us to #3...  

3. Higher Targets Yield Higher Outcomes

  Research shows a direct correlation between higher targets and higher outcomes. An ambitious (10%) yet realistic (see the breakdown in #2) goal will get you better results than a more modest goal. Aiming high could mean the difference between getting a 3% raise and a 6% one. Like that idea?  

4. If You've Been Doing the Work of More Than One Person for Years

  This is likely the long-lingering result of The Great Recession of 2008. And we all know the post-recession recovery has been painfully sluggish; corporations have been slow and cautious about adding staff and ramping up salaries. Meanwhile, companies have piled up record profits, so now there's money for your big pay jump. You just need a clear pay raise strategy to get it.   For these reasons, consider thinking in terms of increasing your pay package by at least 10%. So go ahead and do the math to translate that into dollars: just knock off a zero from your annual salary and you have your minimum pay raise target goal.   My 10% pay raise target goal = $ ___________.   How does that number look? Worth a go, yes?   Pat Katepoo is the founder Pay Raise Prep School for Women. Through February 20, 2015, you can watch her free three-part video training series on How to Unlock Your Pay Raise Potential. Access it here.  
Through special arrangement, QuintCareers is able to get you $50 off Pay Raise Prep School tuition when you register before the enrollment period ends on Friday, February 20, 2015, midnight EST. Use the code QC50 at checkout.