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Ten Tips: Salary negotiations: How to get paid what you're worth

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 29, 2002

It can be one of the trickiest aspects of any job search: the salary negotiation process. Sometimes the process begins right on the application form, well before you're even close to being called in for an interview. How's a job candidate to cope? Consider these tips.

1. DO SOME HOMEWORK. Gather information about your profession's salary range by checking trade journals, salary-related Web sites with cost-of-living calculators and the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook at Also try contacting recruiters and representatives of professional associations.

2. HAVE A GOAL IN MIND. After doing your research, decide on a target salary that's reasonable and fair for the position you're seeking. While it won't guarantee that you'll get exactly what you want, it could be a great source of clarity throughout the negotiation process.

3. DON'T SELL YOURSELF SHORT. Some job candidates try to cast themselves as the low-price alternative for a certain position. This may get you in the door, but you're likely to be underpaid and underappreciated. Instead, sell yourself as a high-quality candidate and shoot for the higher end of the compensation scale.

4. KEEP A LID ON IT. When interviewing for a job, don't be the first one to bring up the subject of salary. Let the interviewer raise the issue.

5. WHAT ARE YOUR SALARY REQUIREMENTS? When confronted with this question, try writing down "Negotiable" without giving a specific answer. If you must disclose a figure to be considered, ask the employer for a salary range for the position. If that's not feasible, write down a fair salary based on your research.

6. WHAT IS YOUR SALARY HISTORY? This one's easy. Write down "To be covered during interview" in the box on the application form.

7. UNDERSTAND THE GAME. The trick is to avoid sharing too much information about your salary history or requirements so as not to limit how much you'll be offered. If employers aren't entirely certain about how much it will take to get you, they'll be more likely to step up and make their best offer.

8. ASK ABOUT BENEFITS. Examine the benefits package on its own merits, separate from any salary offer. Benefits can include insurance, tuition reimbursement, relocation payments, stock options, bonuses and outplacement services upon termination.

9. FOCUS ON YOUR VALUE. Throughout the interview and on into the salary-negotiation phase, give specific examples of your accomplishments, skills and successes that show your potential long-term value to the company.

10. DON'T ACCEPT AN OFFER AT THE INTERVIEW. Tell the employer how interested you are in the position, then explain that you need to discuss the matter with your family or trusted advisers. Always presume that the company's first salary offer is negotiable.

-- Compiled by Laura T. Coffey. Sources: SalaryExpert (; the Wall Street Journal's CareerJournal (; (

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