Don't Negotiate Yourself Out of the Job

Negotiations of any type can be tricky, especially when you are dealing with a potential new employer. You don't want to appear pushy and money hungry, but you don't want to sell yourself short either. So how do you navigate these treacherous waters? Here, our experts offer their tips and advice for successful salary negotiations.

Make the Job Your Focus
Bringing up salary in the first interview, or the second for that matter, can be a real turn off for a potential new employer. They are looking for a candidate who is excited about the opportunity itself, not the earning potential. "You always want to appear that the job is the first and only thing you are interested in," advises Jeremiah Patterson, HR business partner at Stamford, CT based commodities firm, Noble Americas. If you ask about salary too early on in the process, you will come across as only interested in the paycheck. The majority of recruiters and hiring managers will request that you submit salary requirements along with your resume. Trust that you wouldn't be called in for an interview if your requirements were too off-base.

Know Your Worth
You may be sick of hearing this piece of advice, but do your research. Actually knowing what you are worth versus what you feel you should be paid are two entirely different things. "Use data, not emotions or hunches - walking in and stating that you deserve X because your family needs it to keep up to the standard of living won't help you get the salary you're looking for, and may very well lose you the opportunity,"says Charley Polachi, managing partner at Framingham, MA based executive search firm, Polachi Access Executive Search. "Instead, use data. Research comparables for average salary in the same area and be ready to share these statistics. Remember, the individual you are negotiating with often has more experience in negotiating than you have. Having the data and facts available makes your argument." Websites like and can provide you with the market intel you need to make an educated statement on what you are worth and why.

See the Bigger Picture
There is much more to a compensation package than just salary, and this should be taken into account when considering an offer. "When the time is right, find out about health insurance costs, vacation time, etc.," advises Mark Stagno, Principal Consultant, Software Technology Search Region at Northeast recruiting firm, WinterWyman. Maybe you love to travel and are willing to take a lower salary for an extra week of vacation. Make sure you weigh the strengths of the entire offer, not just the straight salary.

Beware of Offer / Counter-Offer Strategies
"Don't forget, the process of finding a job is not like buying a car," warns Lipson. "You're not trying to find the best possible price, going back and forth endlessly." Keep in mind that the end goal is to work for this company, and you don't want to get off on the wrong foot during your first steps in building a relationship with your new employer. "If you repeatedly use the 'offer/counter-offer' approach, you may jeopardize the offer and the relationship. This is a red flag for the people you'll be working with, and could cause an offer to be rescinded."


Happy hunting.


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