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Four Key Tips in Negotiating a Salary

Congratulations. You've completed your degree work or training program and have had a successful interview for a job in your field. It may not be your first job in your chosen career, but for now it's the most important one. While it's true that most entry-level candidates serve at the discretion of the parent company, you do have leverage in negotiating your salary. Tact, wisdom, and strategy plays a large role.

Do Your Homework
Use one or more online salary websites to research typical compensation in your field for your specific job title. Be sure to search market value ranges in your city, as they vary considerably by cost-of-living and industry profiles. What other types of compensation are offered by employers in your field (stock shares, relocation, health-care, parking, daycare, vacation pay, tuition reimbursement).

Assess the Position
Do you have the job locked up? Are you discussing salaries specifically now? Is this a job that matches your current skills or offers an opportunity to grow? Most importantly, are the job requirements specified in the description at the time of your interview(s) clearly defined and pegged competitively to industry-standard wages?

Hold or Fold?
The "flinch" is a common response in negotiating, but is a delicate play. Always let the employer go first with an offer. Before flinching, show a positive, enthusiastic response to the offer, indicating you really want the job. You're saying "yes" with qualifications, and it's okay to ask for a short interval to think it over. Contact associates in the field or a mentor and bounce the offer around.

The Counter
If you really want the job, are willing to take the offer--but hope for more--then make a counter. See if you can include a bonus for performance, an increase after a six-month review, some relocation money, or a hiring bonus. But be sure to back up your negotiations with clearly stated points about what you bring to the table and why you deserve more than the initial amount.

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