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Is that your best offer?

Dealing with the salary question is often the most difficult interview question facing jobseekers.

Most job seekers feel understandably anxious, embarrassed and uncomfortable when the time comes to discuss salaries. Advice such as "never bring up the issue of salary, let the interviewer say it first," is rarely helpful if you don't have any idea of how to respond when the topic does come up. Irish jobs outlines The Top Twelve Tips to Negotiating Salary in an Interview:

1.      Be prepared.  Before going to the interview, it’s crucial to research the company and salary range for the position you are applying for persons with your background and experience.  Have a salary range in mind and be prepared to discuss these figures once salary negotiation has come up.

2.      Know your absolute bottom line. Know what your minimum salary range must be to support the life you want to live. So decide, before you go into an interview, what salary you want to earn, what you need to live on, and what you will be willing to settle for.

3.      Market yourself.  Emphasise the reasons you should get the offer. Document your skills and accomplishments, and be prepared to talk about them.

4.      Never discuss salary until you have a job offer. If you do, you could price yourself out of a job before the employer is convinced they need you. If pressed by the interviewers, tell them you’re flexible and would be happy to discuss salary when you learn more about the job. 

5.      Get the employer to disclose salary before you do.  Don't be the first to mention salary during the interview. Let the employer bring it up as many times as necessary until you feel ready.

6.      When questioned about desired salary, the best response is one that returns the employer's ball back into his court: You can say, “what kind of salary range are you working with?” or “Well, I’d like to make as much as other employees with my qualifications.” or “What is a typical salary for this position?”  Another strategy is to avoid a specific salary and name a pay range instead. Say: “I was thinking of a salary in the £25,000 to £35,000 range.”   

7.      Do not disclose past salary.  Once your past salary is on the table, your negotiating edge goes out the window.  By not disclosing exactly what your current salary is or exactly what it would take to get you to leave your current job, you’ll force a potential employer to make its best offer.   

8.      Don’t forget the value of benefits and perks when negotiating a salary.  Sometimes the salary offered may seem low, low enough for you to turn down the job. Benefits and perks can add up to 40 percent to your basic salary. Some benefits are fixed, but others are negotiable such as stock options, bonuses, employee discounts, training, holiday time and sick leave.  

9.      Make your salary discussion a friendly experience.  Be amicable when discussing salary. You should make the employer feel that you are on the same side and working together to find a package that would satisfy everyone's needs.  

10.  Don't say yes to an offer right away. Be enthusiastic and appreciative when you get the job offer, but ask for at least 24 hours to respond. This gives you time to get over your initial joy at being selected. If you feel the salary is insufficient, express your concern to the employer when asking for time to consider the offer. You'll find out right away whether the salary quoted is set in stone or is flexible.

11.  Get it in writing.  Once you have accepted a job offer and salary level, be sure to get it in writing.

12.  Declining an offer.  If you decide not to accept the offer, make sure you leave on the best of terms. Treat every offer seriously and graciously. You can never tell who you may be doing business with in the future so don’t burn any bridges.

Never underestimate the importance of negotiating salary in an interview. Employers tend to prefer those candidates who already earn a greater income. While these candidates cost more to employ, their higher incoming salaries are assumed to reflect greater competence, initiative and achievement.

So it's in your interest to pursue income increases at every legitimate opportunity. Firstly, you immediately increase your income each time you succeed. Secondly, you make yourself more desirable as a candidate for your next position. And lastly, you increase your future income; the higher your salary/benefit package going into a new job, the better the offer a prospective employee must make to attract you. 


Debbie O'Halloran