To get ready to land that new job or position, ideally you “do your homework.” This includes updating and fine-tuning your resumé, learning about the companies you’ll target and interview with, and discovering how to best present yourself in an interview. It’s also searching to find a position’s salary range before you apply for the job, and the Internet makes this task easier than ever.

You may think you’ve got everything covered, but there’s a part of this process that many people overlook, and that is How to Negotiate Your Salary!

Learning how to negotiate your salary is a very important component of job hunting, but people often make mistakes here. Just as for most subjects, this too is a “knowledge is power” issue. Take the time to become better educated on salary negotiation, and it will pay off for you – literally!

First you may have to change your thinking and understanding of “income” and value. To illustrate this, consider the salaries of actors or film stars. When they negotiate salary, they address the value they bring to the company or project. By reputation alone they will help fill theater seats and spur DVD sales. You see how this idea of value delivered goes far beyond simply covering living expenses! You must think of your own talents and job performance in the same way. Determine your strengths and be able to articulate what your skills and performance can bring to the company.

Some job hunters feel they are not allowed to discuss salary at all, or are not assertive enough when they do. However, others go too far the other way. If a person is too demanding about salary needs, they may inadvertently talk themselves out of a job.

Note: Do not post your salary information. Do not include it in your communications, including e-mail. Past salary history does not belong on your resumé.

Always remember: don’t talk salary unless you’ve got the job! Unless you’ve been offered the position, you are still an applicant. You’ll want to be seen as a team member, and that’s what you’ll be if you’ve received an offer and say “Yes!” You’ll enjoy much more clout this way.

Should an interviewer or HR person ask what salary you want before you’ve been offered a job, respond honestly that you’ll have to know more about the position before you can answer that question. If answering a so-called “blind want ad” that asks applicants to provide a salary history, simply state that your salary is “open.”

As you prepare for your interview and salary negotiations, practice stating the salary and privileges that you believe you merit, and importantly, the reasons why. You’ll use this tactic in negotiations.

Once in negotiations, it may be best to never overstate your past salary history. Despite all of our privacy laws, an exaggeration may be discovered. If you do inflate these real figures and are caught, you could lose your job.

If you’re asked to state a minimum annual starting salary, give an range slightly higher than what the job should pay according to your research. For instance, if a position runs between $52–58K per year, state that your minimum range is between $54–60K. The strategy is to spur offers towards the higher end.

If the top of the salary range is too low but you still want the job, make sure that you initially negotiate for a salary review in the near future, say at 3–6 months from hiring.

Once you have the position, salary is really a “don’t’ ask, don’t tell” issue:

  • Don’t announce or discuss what you make with co-workers.
  • Don’t talk about any fringe benefits or additional goodies you receive.
  • If a co-worker brags about their salary, let them. Whether they make more than you or not, don’t enlighten them with the truth.

Even if you’ve never done it before, you can learn to negotiate salary! If you’d like additional help or coaching in salary negotiation or other career-related issues, contact me.

The Career Chase: Taking Creative Control in a Chaotic Age, by Helen Harkness and Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute, by Jack Chapman, other excellent sources for negotiating strategies.