How to Get a Fair Salary
First, stop thinking of negotiation as an embarrassing ordeal. “You may have spent a year in the job market. You may spend many more years working hard at this new job for an annual raise of 3 percent—if you’re lucky,” says Jim Hopkinson, the author of Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You ($14, amazon.com). “This two-minute conversation is your single best chance to get what you’re worth.”
Prepare in advance by talking to mentors and friends. And use salary-comparison sites, such as PayScale.com, Salary.com, and Glassdoor.com, to determine the average compensation for someone with your background.
The person who says a number first is at a disadvantage, so when a potential employer asks you about money, gracefully dodge the question. Jessica Miller, a coauthor of A Woman’s Guide to Successful Negotiating ($18, amazon.com), offers this script: “If I’m the right person for the job and the job is right for me, I’m sure we can work out something that’s fair. What do you have budgeted for the position?” Saying this is not as tough as it might sound. “They’re not looking for someone whose primary interest in the job is money,” says Miller, “so make the discussion about fit and getting to a number that works for everyone.”
If the other party presses, you don’t have to give an exact number, says Miller: “Talk about the entire package—including salary, potential bonuses, stock, and benefits—and give an approximate value.” Again, you should say something like “My total compensation is in the high five figures, but every company has a different mix, so tell me how you see the compensation for this position being structured.” If you’re caught off guard and blurt out, “I make X amount,” all is not lost—as long as you have a few irons in the fire. “Focus on discus¬sions that you’re having with other companies and what they’re offering,” says Miller. “You don’t necessarily need another solid offer. You can tell them that you’re in talks about another opportunity and the salary being discussed is Y dollars.”
When you get an offer, resist the urge to yell, “I’ll take it!” Graciously say, “Thank you so much. May I get back to you tomorrow?”
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