OK, Let’s Talk About My Salary …

Get RichAt some point in your career, you will need to talk with your team leader or manager about your compensation. Often, these discussions arise as a result of the performance appraisal system or another ritualized process practiced by your organization. Many of us do not like to negotiate. We may even think that it is fun to “haggle” over prices at a “flea market” but when it comes to serious issues such as salary or a major purchase, we are reluctant.

There is usually some room to negotiate where salary is concerned. The key point is that failure to negotiate can and will have expensive implications for the rest of your life. For example, if you fail to negotiate for an additional $1,000.00 per year and using an estimated interest rate of 3.0% over twenty (20) years you will have foregone $806.00 in interest. Now, this is a simplistic calculation because it does not include your future salary improvements due to an ever-increasing basis. If you do not have a financial calculator, try this link. However, if you work for a smaller company or as a 1099 freelancer, you might have more opportunity to negotiate.

There are two minimum requirements you need to negotiate successfully; “Killer” words and “What your job is worth.” LinkedIn recently published an excellent list of things not to say during a salary negotiation, and three (3) of them resonated with me.

Here they are.

I’m sorry. This one tops the list because we’re all apologetic about even broaching money. Never start a conversation about salary with an apology like, “I’m sorry I need to ask about this but….” It automatically transfers power to the employer and suggests that you’re not committed to the conversation.

Yes. Don’t say yes to the first offer — the whole idea of a negotiation is that you will negotiate. In the same way that a car dealer doesn’t reveal the best price when you walk in the door, your employer has some room to negotiate and can probably offer you better numbers than what he or she starts with. Push back on the initial offer.

No. Don’t say “no” outright, since it may end the conversation. Look for a way to move forward. For instance, ask if there are non-salary alternatives, such as benefits, or what is standing in the company’s way of paying what you are asking for. To the extent possible, keep the conversation moving forward.

Know what your job is worth

There are a number of salary comparison sites. If you want to see how your salary compares to the industry at large, be sure to visit MySalary.com and you will an abundance of comparable salary information and other valuable tips. If you enter your zip code, the results will zero in on salaries specific to your region. And if you click the other tabs on the page, additional tables show how the job stacks up when you factor in bonuses and benefits. Use this site as a handy calibration tool to help you size up job offers and research the justification for your next raise.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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