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Always Attempt a Salary Negotiation

Dale: We often get questions about whether to negotiate salary when being offered a new job, and we always urge people to give it a try. If nothing else, we suggest a low-risk strategy of saying, "Thank you, I accept the job offer... but I wonder if there's any room on salary?" If it's "no," then you move on to being delighted. However, you might just get an extra few grand a year, all for less than a minute of negotiation. J.T.: We recently came across a piece of research to back up the case for negotiating — a study by Michelle Marks of George Mason University and Crystal Harold of Temple University. The pair surveyed employees in a number of jobs/industries, and found that those who chose to negotiate (rather than merely accepting the company's first offer) got an average of $5,000 more in annual pay. Dale: Which is, of course, great all by itself, but they also point out that the starting pay has a compound effect. Say two people start at the same time, both getting offers of $50,000. One accepts the $50,000, and the other negotiates up to $55,000. Now, further assume that they each get the same percentage raises throughout a career, and the one who started at the higher salary ends up with $600,000 more over a 40-year career. That's right: $600,000. J.T.: And I bet it's much more, because the person who negotiated starting salary is going to negotiate raises and promotions. So, if you don't negotiate, picture a pile of cash — perhaps a million dollars or more — you're leaving on the table. Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale via e-mail at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. Photo credit: Shutterstock