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Negotiate a higher salary in 2011? It’s possible.

If you’re currently employed and are wondering about next year’s salary, brace yourself. We’re about to say something you don’t usually hear: The economy is working in your favor.
According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, 31 percent of employers are willing to negotiate salary increases with their current employees next year. Could this be tied to the fact that 43 percent of employers are concerned that their best workers are going to pick up and bolt as soon as the economy improves and more businesses are hiring?
The fear of losing in-demand workers does seem to factor in to how much negotiating your boss is willing to do. At least, the industries with high demands are the ones with the most wiggle room. When it comes to negotiating with current employers in 2011, who’s willing to talk it out?
  • 45 percent of IT employers
  • 41 percent of professional and business services employers
  • 39 percent of retail employers
  • 38 percent of sales employers
If you’re looking for a new job, don’t think your salary has been left out in the cold. Half of employers will leave some room for negotiation when they make a job offer to a new employee. And 21 percent of employers are willing to extend multiple offers to the same candidate, so some job seekers have more room to play hardball.
What should you expect?
Just because employers are willing to negotiate salaries, don’t assume you’re going to get a raise just by saying, “More money, please!” Before your boss can consider giving you a raise, you need to give him or her a reason to do so. When asked what you can do to improve your chances of getting a fatter paycheck, employers cited these methods as the most effective:
  • Cite specific accomplishments
  • Present the salary range you want and be able to justify it
  • Display an understanding of what’s important to the company
  • Bring your past performance reviews with you
If you walk into the meeting with enough preparation, you’ll hopefully walk out of it with a higher salary. However, not all bosses are in the position to offer higher salaries. Your boss might be on your side and think you’re worth the extra money, but the higher ups won’t put any extra dollars in the budget. That’s when you and your boss can shift your focus to other perks. Remember, compensation includes more than just a dollar amount, although everyone loves a hefty paycheck.
If they can’t offer you more money, surveyed bosses are willing to extend other offers to you in hopes of keeping you satisfied. These perks are the most popular you’re likely to receive in lieu of a higher salary:
  • More flexible hours
  • Bonuses
  • Training
  • Vacation
  • Most casual dress code
Although salaries probably won’t skyrocket in 2011 and employers continue to be cautiously optimistic about the economy, take heart that bosses are willing to have these conversations at all. In worse climates, think 2008, bosses had layoffs on their minds, not salary negotiations. So let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend to higher paychecks in the future.
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Top Myths and Realities of Salary/Job Offer Negotiation

Receiving a job offer is one of the most exciting events for job-seekers it means all your hard work in tracking down job leads, submitting resumes and application packets, and preparing for job interviews has paid off. Receiving a job offer, though, is also one of the most stressful times for job-seekers, as many people agonize over the terms of the offer and whether to take the plunge into negotiating a better deal.
Negotiating a better salary — or other terms in your job offer — should not be feared or loathed… as in buying a car or a home, a job offer is a starting point. The offer could be the employer’s best offer, but more than likely there is room to negotiate as long as job-seekers understand the rules and overcome some very common myths about the process.
Here is our list of the top myths along with the realities of salary and job offer negotiation.
Salary Myth: Asking for a Lower Salary Will Improve Chances of Hire
If you do not believe in your worth in the value you will bring to the job why should the employer? Most employers are not looking for the cheapest hire, but the best hire for the job. By requesting a lower salary for yourself, you set yourself up for failure (either in not even being considered for the position, or, if hired, struggling to overcome the low salary).
Special note for new college grads and career-changers: Because of your inexperience level in your field, you may need to start at a lower salary than others with relevant experience, but that does not mean you should automatically downgrade your salary request. Always conduct your research and be realistic in your salary request.
Salary Myth: Negotiating Salary of Other Parts of Job Offer Frowned Upon
There’s a common fear among job-seekers that employers frown upon job-seekers who want to negotiate part of the job offer. As long as you respect and understand the process and do not ask for unattainable or unrealistic changes employers generally respect your desire to receive the best possible offer.
Note: Some employers absolutely refuse to negotiate any part of a job offer, but they generally state that up front in the process. For these employers, any attempt at negotiating could result in the employer rescinding the job offer.
Salary Myth: Accepting First Offer is Safest Strategy for Job-Seekers
Job-seekers often have the sense that if they don’t immediately accept an employer’s job offer, that the employer or hiring manager is just waiting to make the offer to the next job-seeker on the short list. The reality is that the employer chose you as the best candidate for the position and bought into you as the top choice so you should not feel pressure to immediately accept the offer. And if you are also interviewing with other employers and close to receiving another offer, you should at least negotiate more time to consider the offer.
Note: Be wary of employers who try to rush you into accepting an offer or who want a decision on the spot. Even if you have no other employment possibilities, always request some time to consider the offer before making a decision.
Salary Myth: Negotiating Salary in a Weak Economy is a Bad Idea
Some job-seekers mistakenly believe that a weak economy means that employers don’t have the money to pay better salaries, but these employers would not be hiring if they did not have the resources to pay new hires. While it’s true that job-seekers may find fewer job openings and have fewer job offers in a weak job market, once you are the person the employer wants to hire, you have room to negotiate.
Note: In a slow or weak economy, some employers might be a bit more sensitive to negotiating salary, but still open to negotiating other aspects of the job offer. Research is again key to knowing the best strategy to follow.
Salary Myth: Believing That Everything is Negotiable in Job Offer
Typical advice given to job-seekers is that all aspects of a job offer are negotiable, but the reality of your situation depends on several factors. As mentioned earlier, some employers simply do not negotiate job offers. In other cases, the level of the job dictates the amount of room for negotiation. Typically, the lower the level of the position, the less room for negotiation. Thus, college grads may find little room for negotiation while mid-level and senior management job-seekers may find the entire offer up for negotiation.
Note: The best source for determining your ability to negotiate one or more aspects of your job offer is an inside source. The power of a strong network is not in just helping you secure job leads but in providing you with key insider information that you can use to receive and negotiate a job offer.
Salary Myth: Asking for Offer in Writing Will Offend Employer
No one should ever accept a job offer without receiving the terms in writing whether in the form of an employment contract or job-offer letter and no legitimate employer will ever question your motives for asking for such. When you receive a job offer during an interview or over the phone, the best strategy is to probe for some of the details (most hiring managers don’t know all the details) and then ask when you should expect the offer in writing.
Note: Another benefit of receiving the offer in writing is that it gives you more time to understand and evaluate the full offer (including salary, additional compensation, and benefits/perks) and whether you want to negotiate any of the terms of the offer.
Final Thoughts
While receiving a job offer is exciting for job-seekers, it’s important that you understand the realities of salary and job-offer negotiation as well as the rules.
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How to win salary negotiations – according to CNN

While some employment opportunities state in black and white what wage an applicant can expect if hired, other positions are grayer in terms of salary.

Talking about money with a potential employer might feel a bit awkward, but coming to terms that leave both sides content is crucial.

Below, experts offer suggestions on how to prepare for salary negotiations.

Timing
Not wanting to look like they are only in it for the money, job seekers often hesitate to break the ice on the issue of salary. Is it OK for a candidate to bring up the topic?

“I get asked this question by friends all the time, and the honest answer is that it depends entirely on the position,” says Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager with Grant Thornton in Toronto.

“If you are a campus hire, you do not ask upfront (first interview) as it can give the impression that you are solely money-focused. For experienced candidates, it’s perfectly appropriate to bring up the topic, especially if you want to ensure that you are at least close in range.”

Anastasia Valentine, a product strategist and career coach from Ottawa, agrees that it is fine to bring up salary during the initial meeting — but not as the first point in the conversation. If the employer doesn’t eventually broach the subject, a tasteful approach is to ask for a salary range.

The dreaded question
Perhaps no question scares candidates as much as, “What salary are you expecting from this position?” The last thing the applicant wants to do is sell himself short, but he also might fear pricing himself out of the running.

Jen Rallis, author of “Ugly Résumés Get Jobs,” suggests turning the tables by asking, “What salary range are you willing to pay for this position?” Once the employer provides a range, the candidate can simply respond, “That’s suitable” if the numbers are in line with his needs.

Likewise, job seekers being pressed for figures can offer the employer a suitable range. To avoid making an uneducated guess, candidates should find out before the interview what similar positions in the field are paying.

“Being prepared and understanding market rates for the worth of experience and skills not only demonstrates confidence and preparation, it also keeps the discussion on a factual versus emotional level,” Valentine says. “This speaks volumes to an employer beyond the request for a specific dollar amount.”

Peterson advises choosing numbers carefully.

“Candidates need to remember the cardinal rule when giving ranges: If you give a range, for example 60-75K, the employer generally remembers the 60 while the candidate remains focused on the 75. Be prepared to give a small range.”

Proving worth
Candidates who land offers at the higher end of a salary range are ones who can demonstrate to an employer that they are worth the price. Some ways to do that include:

Quantifying experience. (“My client increased sales by 8 percent after implementing my marketing idea.”)

Researching the company beforehand so that you can tailor information to its needs. (“I see the company is interested in becoming ‘greener.’ Here are some ways I might be of help.”)

Pointing out any extras that set you apart (advanced training, special certifications, knowledge of a second language, etc.).

Reaching an agreement
Ideally, both sides should have similar expectations regarding salary by the time an offer is issued. Yet sometimes there are surprises.

Lisa Martin of Vancouver, British Columbia, a top talent consultant and coach for Lisa Martin International, suggests this diplomatic approach to dealing with an unfavorable offer:

“Call back the next day (do not use e-mail or any other electronic format where your intent can be misunderstood) and tell the interviewer all the reasons you’d like to work with the company but that after due consideration there seems to be a misalignment with their needs and the value you bring to the organization. Ask if there is a way to bring the two into better alignment. If there seems to be interest, make a counteroffer.”

Rallis agrees that most employers will leave room for negotiation if not on salary then on other benefits. “Ask if a car allowance, cell phone allowance or extra vacation days are available to compensate for a lower salary.”

Finally, try to view negotiations as seeking a win-win situation for all involved. An employer with enough interest to go through all the stages leading up to an offer has already invested a fair amount of time and energy. The company may be just as eager as you to make things work.

By Beth Braccio Hering

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