Negotiating Salary in Tough Times

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Some job seekers have said when they asked about salaries during negotiations, their interviewers insisted in hearing their minimum salary requirements - sometimes after just one interview. One the candidates named their price, the negotiations ended.

Calum Coburn, global managing director for the Negotiation Experts, a negotiation training and consulting firm based in Sydney, says even that bad news contains a thread of useful information. His reasoning: Assuming your requested salary was within the market range, an employer's refusal to negotiate could indicate they just can't afford the talent and experience they need. It's better to find this out sooner rather than later, so you can move on to more viable prospects.

"When an employer asks a prospect to name their rate, it's usually good news, because it means they're interested," says Coburn. "The bad news is that it could mean they are just kicking the tires, they aren't really serious about making an offer, or they are just on a fishing expedition, to see if they can afford someone of your caliber."

This year, salary negotiations will undoubtedly pose challenges. So here are a few negotiating tactics to help you come out ahead:

Do your homework: Know the market rate for your skill set and how you stack up, before entering into negotiations.

Find an inside source: Coburn suggests job seekers solicit compensation intel from a company employee who's not involved in the hiring process. Knowing the company's general compensation structure, philosophy and market position will help you plot your negotiation strategy and determine your compensation request.

Negotiate in-person: Ideally, job seekers should negotiate face-to-face, so they can read the negotiator's body language and engage them in a back-and-forth discussion. If you are asked to name your rate, ask the negotiator if they have a range in mind before naming your price.

Know your price: If you don't have all the information you need to make a firm demand, (such as the cost of benefits, etc.) qualify your request by stating that based upon the information you have today, this is the salary you're requesting. If you quote a range, be sure you can live with the lowest salary you quote.

Have options: The more irons you have in the fire, the better you'll negotiate. Even part-time or contract work will help you negotiate with confidence and walk away from negotiators, who are just kicking the tires.

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