Negotiating Salary for a New Job

Slightly off topic, but I’m adding this one to the Modern Resume blog since I think it’s something to be aware of in managing your career, and to some extent, your brand. How you handle this reflects on you, and I wanted to note a little advice.
I ran across this post from Brent Ozar on salary negotiations that gives some advice. It was in response to a Twitter post, which proves one great thing about where you can get inspiration: Twitter! For the most part I agree with Brent’s advice, but I have a slightly different take on how to handle it.

Ask, Don’t Answer

My basic advice is that you ought to get an idea of what the job is paying first, and as soon as possible. Money does matter, and it can break negotiations down if the number of too low.
There is no good average salary for some jobs. I know that HR people like to think there is, but I have seen it quite often that the ranges for a particular job, and skillset, can vary widely in companies. I think that it’s it’s in part because the value placed on a particular job can vary widely from company to company. However, I would say that the majority of the issue is that most people are poor negotiators.
I’m getting slightly off track here, but my first advice is that early on in the initial interview, probably over the phone, you get an idea of the salary range the company is looking to pay. If they ask you what you are making, tactfully ask them what the job pays. If they press let them know that you do not necessarily want to disclose your salary right now until you find out more about the job. Defer the discussion.
Why?
If you are expecting, or need, to make $75,000/yr and the job is for $55,000/yr, there might not be a point in continuing.  I’ve had that happen to me (not those numbers, but a similar experience) and it spurred me to ask them if that was a hard range or could anything be done to raise it. I have let them know that I can’t work for that number and in some cases they considered raising it, some they didn’t. However if it’s a make or break number, then it’s good to get that out of the way up front and stop wasting each other’s time.
After that, I think I’d follow Brent’s advice and give you current salary as a multiple of 10. You make in the “60s” or the “80s”, but there’s no need to give an exact figure. Information is power, and a sharp negotiator, like an experienced HR person or manager, will use an exact number to beat you down on your salary.

Have Reasons

Whether you hoping to make more money, or take a pay cut, have reasons for your move. Keep in mind that anything you say as a slight against your current situation could be seen as a potential negative to a new employer. Tread carefully, but honestly in your reasons for your new salary (up or down).
Above all, be honest. There’s no reason for you to lie about your salary, and it can only hurt later on down  the road if someone finds out. Give an honest range in which you currently fall.
Lastly, the best argument is that they are paying you to do a job, and even if that job is paying 20% more than you currently make, if they think you can do the job, they should pay you.

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