Salary Negotiation: Ask, Don’t Tell.

When negotiating salary, you should have done ample research so that you know your realistic, fair market value. That is, be prepared. Factor in your years of experience, special projects or initiatives, and the overall economic climate. All these cold-hard stats mean a prospect can’t undercut you when bargaining.

Shoot Straight

Be as up front and honest as possible. Any sort of duplicity such as padding numbers may be perceived as dishonest and can come back to haunt you. Many of the bigger, well-established companies are known to call and check with current employers about salary ranges. Don’t be intimidated. Just be honest and clear.

Should You Tell All?

We found advice-givers on both sides of the ‘fess up’ issue. Some says if you’re asked flat out, tell them, and some warn against winning a salary tug-of-war at the expense of losing the good will of the interviewer. But many interviewees still balk at speaking first.

When they ask what you’re making, say ‘You know what the job is worth. I’ll let you know if the figure’s too low’. Most employers will try to low-ball candidates, but when you show that level of confidence, they don’t want to insult you. They have always come back slightly higher than what you expecting.

We suggest a little of both approaches and tailoring the response. If you can avoid divulging salary first, great. If not, don’t let your current earnings determine your new income. Simply explain your situation, enumerating your reasons, as you answer the question. Keep in mind: You can always revise your desired salary down (and look like a motivated candidate for considering a pay cut). But once a figure’s named, it’s almost impossible to inflate it.

The company is a business and the interviewer’s job to get you as cheaply as possible. This is not about being as nice as possible. Don’t apologize, don’t backpedal. Exude confidence and assert yourself in a solid but kind manner.

Go the Extra Mile

Dollars and cents are just the beginning when it comes to negotiating your compensation package. If the base salary isn’t enough but they aren’t budging, have a list of other requested perks: an extra week of paid vacation, flex time or four-day workweeks, stock options, bonus schedules, and early salary review. Some bonuses can be 10% to 20% of your salary. And an extra week during the holidays is worth a lot too.

Six Tips for Strategically Earning More in the Workplace
Think of job jumping as a career strategy. Staying with the same company for 10-20 years used to be a common career strategy. That’s somewhat risky thinking in today’s job market. Companies have proven they will lay you off or sell your division or outsource your job if it helps them be more competitive or more profitable.

Always be looking for your next job. Always be doing research on hot companies and hot industries in your market. Always be looking down the road. Stay in touch with your market and keep your radar out for great new opportunities. But, be ‘fiercely loyal’ to your company while you are there. Do your best even if you are planning on leaving soon.

Market yourself. Think of yourself the way companies think of a new product. Ask yourself what you need to do to position yourself for future success. Don’t wait for the market to come to you.

Create a mini business plan. Create a mini business plan after you have done your research and you have set up an interview with a great company. Don’t just present yourself in the conventional ways. Show them what you will do for them and how you will do it. This approach will clearly differentiate you from the other candidates.

Present yourself. Present yourself and your mini business plan with a passion! Take past awards and commendations with you. Save the ‘what is the company going to do for me questions’ until the end of the interview.