Negotiate A Great Salary... Even In A Recession

Work is just, that: work. Just getting or keeping a job these days seems like enough. The thing is, its not. Starting salaries dictate how much you earn long-term. In addition, benefits and job security are dwindling while taxes are rising. Today, employees need to earn more just to stand still in their careers. Moreover, employers know they can get more work for less and everyone in management is jockeying for the best employees for the least amount of money. The dirty little secret no one is talking about is many employers are still willing to pay a lot for good talent. Here are a few tips on how to successfully negotiate a great salary or raise in today’s job market.

Make It Known You Don't Need The Job

This doesn’t mean that you don’t want the job or don’t work hard; just make it known you have other options. In today’s job market, having back up plans and alternatives is essential for survival. If you haven’t engineered a back up plan, now is the time to start. Once it is in place you won’t have to bluff a nonchalant attitude. The people being promoted and given raises these days are the valuable employees that have the right attitude and that attitude is: I don’t really need this job, I can get another (better) one. Among a sea of employees who are absolutely desperate not to be fired, this type of attitude stands out like a bright light and it makes management pay attention. Moreover, adopting an honest attitude about your job’s life expectancy can be very liberating. While everyone else is so petrified about losing their job that they are constantly emitting desperation and a bad attitude you will be emitting prosperity and hope. People around you will thrive and this will make you look even better to upper management. Combine outstanding performance with the impression your company might lose you to the competition and you have a formula for a healthy raise and a promotion. In the hiring arena competition for jobs is very fierce. No matter what your qualifications or background there is probably someone who is better qualified for the job. You can’t control that right now. What you can control is your attitude. Successful job candidates are usually the people that get along well with the interviewers. Employers are looking for someone with excellent office etiquette and someone who will be a valuable addition to their team. Once you are fairly certain they like you and you like them put a little nudge into the negotiations by hinting you are fielding several other offers. It’s best to actually be doing this rather than bluffing. Thanks to evolution people always want something more if they are afraid it might disappear.

Salary Isn't Everything: Nail Great Benefits

Every contract can be reviewed, crossed-out, added to and rewritten. Always look to get valuable compensation added to your contract. Here is an example. A real estate developer was just hired by a small firm. She nailed a six-figure salary. She then negotiated a valuable severance package before she took the new job. She told the company she wanted a full severance package immediately that matched the terms of her current job. Without it she couldn't move. Her argument was logical and brilliant. In her old job she had a valuable severance package. Why should she give that up to work for a smaller (less stable) company? She neglected to mention the new salary was more than twice her old one. Double score. Benefits negotiations can extend to anything and everything. Extra vacation time, an elevated bonus structure and the power to choose your own admin are all things that can be very important. Everyone’s values are a bit different. Add these extra benefits to the traditional fringe benefits like stock, life insurance, health insurance and retirement plans. Don’t get too greedy and choose only two or three points of negotiation. Moreover, plan to let the employer “win” on one to two of these points.

Close The Sale

Part of the secret to good negotiating is momentum. This is true whether you are selling cars or selling yourself. Keep negotiations brief and always move the process along as quickly as possible. Once you have negotiated a salary or a raise verbally get it in writing and have everything summarized into a letter of agreement as soon as possible. A simple, “Can your secretary write me up a quick summary this afternoon so that I can review it,” is a great nudge to getting that final contract signed and sealed. Unwritten promises aren’t worth the air they disappear into.

Additional Tips For Negotiating A Great Salary

  • Don’t start talking money until you have a job offer- ever!
  • Make them call the first number.
  • Do your research; know what you should be paid in the position.
  • Keep your salary strategies and negotiations to yourself. Don’t talk about money at the office.
  • Practice negotiating “for fun” at an open-air market.
  • Don’t take salary negotiations too personally.
  • Always ask about salary increases and raises at least once a year.
  • Remember even if you love your boss they aren't going to pay to send your kids to college.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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