Reaching the end of a ob interview, the human resources person asked Steve, a young civil engineer fresh out of MIT what kind of a salary he was looking for.
Steve responds, "In the neighborhood of 140,000 a year, depending on the benefits package".
The human resources professional responds:
"Well, what would you say to a package of 5-weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company match retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years...say a red corvette?"
"Wow! Are you kidding", said Steve.
"Yeah, but you started it", said the human resources professional.
Morale of the story? Steve blew it.
Mistake #1 - He did not determine his worth.
Steve went into the interview without doing his homework. If he had, he would have known that a recent graduate of MIT with no prior experience currently makes $50,934. He asked for about 3x's as much. What Steve could have done was the following:
a. Find out the compensation rate for his experience and profession. This information is readily available at www.salary.com. Or, he could have called friends or colleagues that are in the same industry as he and ask them what the compensation model looks like for someone with his credentials.
b. Using this figure, he could determine what was worth and what is the lowest offer he would consider. This step is very important. In the thick of the negotiations fear and frustration may get in the way of his financial goals. Having a pre-determined figure can help him refocus and redirect his negotiation strategy when your emotions are running high.
Mistake #2 - He gave a number first.
Steve did not know how to properly entertain the question, "What salary are you looking for?". Like many others, Steve just saw this as another question that deserved an immediate response. He should have stated something to the effect of "During my research for this position and considering my qualifications, I believe I should fall into the mid range of your salary cycle." Answering the question without revealing a number would have put Steve at the advantage. He did not run the risk of stating a salary what was too low or too high.
It is simply not enough to know what you are worth; you must be able to (a) properly determine when it is appropriate to entertain the question, "What salary are you looking for?" and (b) articulate with confidence negotiate your total compensation package.
Over 85% of employers expect a candidate to negotiate salary. They know this is part of the employment game. Unfortunately, many candidates are intimated by the process and don't make a counteroffer. Some employers even claim to be disappointed when a candidate doesn't negotiate. They view this as a sign of weakness - especially if you are a salesperson where negotiating is a vital part of the job.
Take the time to go to www.salary.com and give yourself the advantage!
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