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How to negotiate your salary

A.B.A. |
It's a crisis and layoffs all around you. So, if you are offered a job you will accept it no matter what's the salary, right? Well, that's wrong - you can do better than that.

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If you are offered a job, or even a great job, with a not-so-great salary, that doesn't mean you have to either pass or accept a truly paltry package. They want you, so work with them, you should be sitting on the same side of the negotiating table as the employer, not the opposite side.

The magic sentence is "We both want me to work here. Let's figure out how to make that happen", and it will bring results. First, negotiate other aspects of your package to bump up the overall compensation. Then, ask for other perks that will increase your quality of life — because isn't that really what money gives you?

First, don't be afraid to ask for cold hard cash. Many companies still have pools of money for signing bonuses, so if your new employer say "We can give you 5,000 in bonus", don't be afraid to answer "That's great, but is that the maximum you can offer?" Remember, you are negotiating your salary, but you also showing how you will negotiate with another company. Nobody wants you to say "yes" to any offer from the other side of the table.

Then ask about restricted stock grants, stock options, and — especially if you're being offered a senior executive position — profit-sharing. Just remember that no matter how well you perform, the stock market is going to decide what those shares are ultimately worth.

Also consider asking directly for what you want the money to purchase. If it costs a company less than the salary you're asking for, they just might bite. "I negotiated a shiny new BMW for a senior person at a bank," says one head-hunter. "He wanted the luxury car, and when it came down to it, the bank wouldn't pay the extra salary because they had to keep all senior vice presidents at that level. But they could carve out the company leasing that car, and the guy got that car."

If the company just can't meet your financial needs, but you need or want the job, consider how it might pay off later down the line. One strategy that won't cost your company a cent is to get a virtual job promotion. Maximize the value of the new job by getting a really fabulous title, that really nice title on the resume can result in more money on your next career move.

The biggest quality-of-life builder is time — either free or flexible. In today's economy time is becoming worth more than money. If the company can give people more time to spend with their family or have a flexible schedule, it's going to get better quality work and people who are more eager to accomplish the goals delegated to them. So, consider requesting extra vacation days, or even a four-day week.

You see, with just a bit of smart negotiating you can achieve two goals: put yourself in a better position and show your new employer that you can handle negotiations smartly. And that, you will admit, is good move in good or bad economy.


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