October 27, 2010 | | 1 Comment When looking for a new job, salary is a big consideration. After all, isn’t that why we work in the first place, to earn a living? Of course, when you finally do find work, you want to make sure you’ve landed the best salary possible. There’s nothing worse than finding out AFTER you start your new job that you’re making way less than the dude who delivers the inner office mail. In the gravy years of abundant employment the subject of salary seldom came up in an initial job interview. Back then Step 1 was all about touting your experience, job skills, education, and even a little bit of “who you know.” But now with both employers and employees watching their pennies, salary comes up sooner than later in the interview process. So to help you navigate these murky waters, we give you five tips that can help you negotiate a better salary. Don’t Talk Money Too Soon In an interview, try not to negotiate salary until after you’ve landed the job (or you’re at least close to getting it). Nothing turns off a potential employer more than hearing you demand a certain amount of money even before you know what the job duties are. If, however, your interviewer mentions salary early on, respond by asking, “What’s the salary range for this job?” or “What’s the salary range for your employees currently holding similar positions?” Let your interviewer tell you how much you should be making if you worked there. If he presses you for an answer without giving you any hints, just be honest and tell him you want to make at least as much as anyone else with the same experience. Know Your Worth If you want the high end of the salary range, then you’d better have some darn good reasons to justify it. Prepare a list of those reasons before you go in for the interview and include what other companies are paying for similar work experience (salary ranges for just about anything are available on the Web). Work your list of qualifications into the conversation before the subject of salary comes up. That way it doesn’t look like you’re trying to rationalize why you should get top dollar, even though that’s exactly what you’re doing. Have Reasonable Expectations Okay, we get it. You used to be a big wig at your old company but now you have to go back to school just to compete for jobs with people who are barely old enough to drink. It’s humbling. Nevertheless, do your research and know what the salary range is for the job to which you’re applying. If you’re not qualified enough to ask for top dollar, then either make peace with that and go ahead with the interview (knowing you’ll get less), or just walk away. Don’t go expecting to talk your interviewer into giving you more than the company can afford. Not only will your interviewer resent being put in the hot seat, it will make you appear desperate. And even if you are desperate, you certainly don’t want to look that way. On the other hand, if you have a bottom line salary, and it’s reasonable, then stick to it. Justify it by explaining how perfect you are for the job (see #2 above Know Your Worth). Keep a Lid on Your Old Salary Don’t tell your interviewer what you were making before, unless of course he asks, and then it’s up to you how to answer. For example, you could give an exact amount or a range. But regardless of whether your old salary was lower or higher, you lose on this one. If you made a lot more in your last job, it looks like you’re settling for something less while you continue to look for work (which may be the case, but you certainly don’t want them to know that). Conversely, if you blab that you made a lot less in your last job, then it appears as if you’re going after a job for which you might be under qualified. Best to avoid the whole issue, if you can. Get Excited About Benefits So the wage of the job you’re up for is a little lower than you’d like, but hey, if they offer a killer family health plan, stock options, retirement, three weeks paid vacation per year, and/or they’ll pay all your moving expenses, well then that’s certainly something to think about. Consider your benefits package as part of your total salary, because let’s face it, if your employer doesn’t pay for this stuff then you will. Remember, finding a job is only half the goal. It also has to come with a salary you can live with. Don’t assume you have no say when it comes to money. With a little bit of subtle negotiation you can start out making (at least) what you’re worth and over time work your way up from there. Are you having issues negotiating your salary? Maybe you have some tips of your own. Share them in the comments below!