How to Negotiate a Competitive Salary

Even though the economy has recovered a fair amount over the past few years, the job market continues to grow anemically. As a result, many individuals — including those with graduate degrees — are happy to find any decent job, especially if it happens to be in their desired field or industry. Unfortunately, what often happens is that these individuals are so excited about the prospect of getting a job that they forget to negotiate a salary with which they will be happy long-term. This is important not only because you should be getting paid what you are worth, but you will also work harder for your employer (and provide the organization with better value for the salary it is paying you) if you genuinely feel that you are being properly compensated.

The following are a few simple techniques to remember when negotiating a salary.

Know the industry average
Before stepping foot into a salary negotiation, it is absolutely imperative that you know as much about the industry as possible. In addition to knowing the average salary for a position like yours, you should have an understanding of the general labor market in the industry, as well. Is there a shortage of qualified workers with your particular expertise? Knowing the answers to questions like these can give you the confidence and justification to ask for a higher salary.

Get the employer to make an offer first, if at all possible
Some employers will try to get the employee to make the first offer. The problem with this is that if you come in with too low a number, you might end up getting paid less than what the employer was willing to offer. This is compounded by the fact that you might avoid “high-balling” the employer, since the organization might just decide to go with a different candidate. Whenever possible, get the employer to make the first offer and negotiate from there. In addition, avoid mentioning specifics of how much you were paid in your previous position.

Explicitly point out the unique and/or specific value you bring to the table
Make sure you walk to the negotiating table knowing why the organization wants to hire you. What is it about your skills and qualifications that make you an attractive candidate? Speak to those aspects as much as possible.

While it can be exciting to get a good job, it will be even better if you are able to negotiate a fair salary you can be proud of.

5 Questions YOU Should Ask in a Job Interview

Job interviews can be stressful. Not only are you being judged on your qualifications as they relate to a particular position, but your personality is probably under intense scrutiny to determine whether or not you would fit in with the company culture.

One of the more common questions that interviewers will ask is whether you have any questions for them. Sometimes this question comes at the end of interview, sometimes at the beginning, and sometimes not at all. Regardless of when the question is asked, you should always have a set of insightful questions that clearly indicate that you are not only interested in the job but you have already invested yourself mentally into being a great employee.

The following are five great questions you can ask during a job interview. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it is definitely a great place to start:

What is your favorite aspect of working here?
It is useful to get a sense of what other employees at the company find appealing so that you can determine for yourself whether you want to work there in the first place. This also gives the interviewer a chance to open up a bit, which can often provide useful insight into the company and the people within it.

What are the metrics by which my success will be measured in this position?
This question shows that you are thinking ahead and are interested in working toward the specific goals that are needed by the company. Don’t be afraid to ask for greater detail, as these metrics will be one of the most important measurements of your success (or failure) if you are hired.

What would be my top priorities in the first three months in the position?
Like the last question, this question shows that you are thinking about how to be an effective employee. It also provides you with a sense of what your job responsibilities will be right off the bat. Remember, the company is being analyzed just as much are you are.

Do you have any concerns or reservations about my qualifications or about my application in general?
Asking this question gives you the opportunity to address any weaknesses or holes in your application. Just make sure you have strong answers for your weaknesses ahead of time.

Where do we go from here?
Always close with this question (or a variant of it). It shows initiative and puts pressure on the interviewer to set expectations for the next step.

Taking these questions into an interview will help set you up for success in what hopefully becomes a fruitful career!