Career Corner: Be a savvy negotiator to earn more

When it comes to salary negotiation, some people are better at it than others. “Savvy negotiators” have learned the ins and outs of salary negotiation and how to expand on their skills and accomplishments to get the salary they believe they deserve. People will either sink or swim during the salary-negotiation process.


Jane had been unemployed for four months before landing a job offer. She was so excited about being employed that when she was asked about her salary expectations, she responded with what she earned in her last job. When the employer informed Jane that her starting salary was less than what she had earned in her last job, Jane was disappointed but unprepared to make a counteroffer. A few weeks later, Jane discovered that another person was hired and offered a significantly higher salary for a similar position.

Needless to say, Jane chose to leave the job after a few months. Through this experience, Jane learned some valuable lessons about herself and what she needed to do enhance her salary potential in the future. Jane’s story is more common than not.

What were Jane’s mistakes? She did not know her worth in comparison to others. She did not communicate her accomplishments to the employer. And she did not know how to respond to the question, “What are your salary expectations?”

What could Jane have done differently?

Jane should have asked more questions about the company and the position to determine whether it was a good fit before accepting the offer. She could have spent time conducting a salary research using the Internet and other resources. And she should have negotiated for a compromise such as a six-month performance review with the stipulation that her salary would be reviewed again at that time.

What about you? When was the last time you were involved in a salary negotiation? Were you successful in getting what you asked for or did you relinquish role of negotiator in fear of not getting what you were worth?

Becoming a savvy negotiator is within your reach if you are willing to invest your time in getting ready to participate in the salary negotiation process utilizing what I refer to as the Three Ps – preparation, practice and persistence.

PREPARATION: Be diligent in doing your salary research about finding out what the fair market value of the position. Do your homework and get to know people within your target employers. And above all, keep a positive attitude and be passionate about what you are doing.

PRACTICE: Find someone who possesses interview and salary negotiation experience and spend time doing role-plays. Role play will allows you to practice salary negotiation in preparation for a future job offering and will help improve your skills.

PERSISTENCE: If you have done the research and successfully presented your accomplishments as being of “value” to the employer, you must be prepared to walk away from the position. Also, depending on the employer, a “no” response does not always means “no.”