Negotiating Compensation Effectively When Between Jobs

The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Negotiating Compensation Effectively When   Between Jobs
by Kevin T. Buckley, CPC

With increasing competition from people who were recently downsized to restructured how do you negotiate compensation effectively and avoid under or over selling yourself and pricing yourself out of the market?

Compensation is not a topic that should come up from the person being interviewed. Bringing up the issue of compensation first puts you at a disadvantage. Let the potential employer bring up the subject.

Employers often will ask you what your compensation expectations are to determine whether or not you fit into their company salary scales. There are some useful ways of handling this type of questioning effectively so that you do not box yourself in or out of the salary range.

This is assuming of course that you have already done your Internet research to try to determine what the average salary range is a position that you are applying for.

If you have not done this there are a number of different sites that you can google on the Internet which provide both regional and national salary levels for numerous positions.

Here are some sites:

If you work in a specific industry, you might consider contacting your governing industry association or organization and ask for them if there are any particular websites or companies that are familiar with salaries in your industry sector.

The key to handling compensation questions is to engage in an open-ended discussion. You need to understand what is in the employer's mind when the question is asked. One way of doing this is to answer the question in these terms:

" I would like to understand clearly what your expectations are before committing to a figure. How do you see my experience and qualifications fitting the demands of this job?"

This is a way of bypassing the question and asking the employer what his/her opinion of your experience is in relation to the job hiring criteria. It solicits more detail from the employer and gives you time to think.

You can then follow up with something like this:

"I'm sure we could come to an agreement that would be fair given my experience and my track record in this area. What do you see as the most important part of the job?"

What you have done is to establish a) that you are open to discussion and are flexible and b) you have retained control of the discussion by asking an open-ended question seeking more information to make an informed decision.

The employer's response to you will likely focus on those key areas of job performance that are of critical interest and will serve as the basis for making their making the final hiring decision. You can then proceed to give examples of you skills, experience, track record and accomplishments that would support those key performance areas. This increases your appeal and their interest in you as a potential employee.

Sometimes you will be pressed for an answer. In this instance, you can answer in the following way:

"Well, so I understand clearly, what is the middle salary range for this position in your company?"

Note that you did not ask what is the lowest or highest salary that you offer, you're trying to stay in the middle averages. This is a reasonable area to discuss and should elicit some figures to discuss.

Some employers will be looking at people who are between jobs as easily employable and will look for evidence of nervousness or strong eagerness to accept the position. It is a fine line between appearing to be motivated and appearing to be desperate. A motivated person will expect to have a little time to think about an offer and may have questions that come to mind to clarify the terms of the offer. An over-eager person telegraphs their attitude by wanting to strike a deal on the spot. That is being motivated by fear of losing out on the opportunity and is deciding under pressure. You want to avoid giving that impression.

Showing confidence in your experience, skills and other quailifications is expressed by how you handle this important subject. It is always best to establish your credibility by knowing yourself and what you can do and expressing this clearly and giving the interviewer evidence that supports your candidacy.

An employer who has sincere interest in you as an employee -  not just for the short term but for future long-term development -  will handle this area professionally and will convey to you a willingness to come to terms. Remember that for some people vacation is more important than salary, and that employers may be more willing to give in this area if they are bound by corporate policy on the salary scales. So, know what you want, what you would gladly accept and what you would settle for given the right opportunity.

Believe in what you have to offer and others will also.

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