Negotiate a whopping salary

Just because the economy has faltered doesn’t mean your perspective employer is the sole determinant of your salary. You still have hand.

Since the dawn of time, salary negotiation has been a source of anxiety for many a green college grad. Before entering into this strange dance — which is oftentimes characterized by Cold War tones, stares and ambiguity — ask yourself two things: ‚What am I worth? And does anyone else agree?’

What am I worth?

This can be especially tough to answer for someone with little or no professional experience. Obviously the pay scale you’re used to flipping burgers and rolling dogs through high school and college will have to be adjusted somewhat, and to aid that adjustment, you’ll have to do some research. Assuming you have a particular field in mind before you begin submitting applications and resumes, gather a list of contacts within that field. The correspondence you have with these folks and organizations will help you form a reasonable estimate of your personal worth.

Possible contacts include folks working within your desired field (friends, family, family friends — ask around) and HR folks cold-called (many can be very helpful — simply express your desire to break into their field and ask for the going salaries for people of your qualifications — they might even give you some hints on breaking into the field). Head hunters and recruiters may also be of interest, and can be found in the yellow pages.

Also, it can’t hurt to consult a few salary calculators (such as, but remember to take them with a grain of salt. These, as a rule are inaccurate, failing to take into account skill and experience, two of the most important factors in calculating your worth to an employer. They’ll give you a frame of reference, sure, and a loose indication of what can be earned at a particular job, but unfortunately that window usually looks something like ‚Salaries range from $20,000 to $90,000.’

Finally, take into account the economic climate of the time. A low unemployment rate will inflate salaries, a high unemployment rate will lower them.

Now That I Know What I’m Worth, Does Anyone Else Agree?

After a little homework, you have your ballpark figure. Hopefully, during this time, you’ve also been sending out resumes, and have had a few nibbles that have blossomed into full interviews in which you floored the hiring manager with your skill, poise, wit ambition and charm.

In other words, you are now through the looking glass, and the topic of conversation on everyone’s mind is ‚Salary Requirements.’

For starters, bear in mind that you’re not going to be able to trick employers into giving you more than you’re worth. They are savvy old hands at this business. You’re better off working to convince them that you are indeed worth the reasonable target salary you’ve specified.

Also, understand that there is much, much stiffer competition for almost every job than there was three years ago, and there is no strong economy to embolden young job searchers to commandeer the reigns in the negotiating process. That said, however, it doesn’t mean the employer holds all of the power. While he/she may have an advantage, the process is, as always, essentially a cooperative one, and it will behoove you to gauge your bargaining power before entering into negotiations.

Here are a few determinants of how much power you will wield in the negotiation process:

ˇ You have a strong record, top skills and a winning personality
ˇ There isn’t much competition
ˇ You were recommended to the company by someone in the know
ˇ You kicked ass in the interview
ˇ You have other offers
ˇ It is clear those you are liked by the interviewer(s)
ˇ The fact that you would fit well into the company is unquestionable
(With all of these, you’re in the driver’s seat; without any, well… you’re lucky they don’t charge you for the use of the chair.)

Having assessed your worth and position in the negotiation process, it’s time to name your salary. Be sure you’re not the first one to mention the ‚S’ word, however. This violates a cardinal rule of employment: don’t let on that your primary motivation for taking a job is to draw a regular paycheck — even if that is the case. Always work to give the impression that salary takes second seat to job satisfaction and fit. Be careful not to shortchange or overestimate yourself. Arrive at a fair and honest number, and use that as the base in your salary range. For example, if you have taken into account all of the relevant factors, and arrived at a desired salary of $28,000, use that as a base, and use a number like $35,000 as a ceiling. Rest assured, you probably will not get more than the base. Why would the employer offer more if he/she knows you’d be willing to work for less?

If and when an offer is made, ask to sleep on it for a couple days. Don’t accept right off. Waiting increases the dramatic tension, and warms employers to the idea that you may be worth more than their initial offer.

Finally, if the offer seems low to you, considering the responsibilities of the job, and you’re still truly interested, it is okay to suggest a renegotiation (don’t demand it). Be tactful and specific in your defense of a higher salary. If the employer can’t increase the salary offered, you may be able to wrangle a few extra benefits out of them instead.

By Joe Keohane


whopping olbrzymi
to faltered chwiać się, zwalniać
ambiguity niejednoznaczno?ć
adjustment dopasowanie
to assume zakładać
to gather zebrać
folks ludzie, krewni
to estimate oszacować
hints wskazówki, uwagi
to take into account rozważyć
to range from…to… sięgać/wahać się od…do…
to inflate zawyżać
to blossom rozkwitać
poise opanowanie, równowaga
charm urok
to bear in mind rozważyć
stiffer ostrzejsza (rywalizacja)
to embolden o?mielać
to commandeer rekwirować, przejmować
to gauge ocenić, wymierzyć
bargaining power siła przetargowa
to wield dzierżyć
to give the impression sprawiać wrażenie
tension napięcie
to wrangle wykłócić się