Best way to negotiate compensation?

How do you approach the tough question of how much pay to ask for?

You have an interview coming up and you know they are going to ask you how much compensation you require. You don't want to ask for too much and be thrown out of the candidate pool but if you take the job making too little you might be stuck working a second job for the next year. My approach so far has been to be honest and say "well at my last job I made $X" followed by "but you are the person who will ultimately decide what you can pay me so really it is up to you."


A associate of mine is a "Exec. Coach" and he sent me this when I asked him the question (use it or don't, hope it at least helps a bit):

"Answer the salary question. I’m going to give you a secret to the most dreaded question of all – the salary question. I can assure you, it has worked for dozens of my top executive clients."

Say, “Well [interviewer’s name], I was making $XK with a $YK annual bonus at my last position, and, if possible, I’d like to be in that ballpark. I do understand, however, that the economy is rough out there, so I’m more interested in the opportunity than the precise salary. I will be very happy to consider your best offer.”

my professor had a good answer to this :: "I know you have a range in mind, and I wish to be considered at the top of that range"

I benchmark what similar positions are paying (around the market and the country). That way you can talk to the employer with some knowledge of what is truly fair compensation for the positioin. And don't forget - compensation comes in all kinds of creative packages. It doesn't just mean base salary. If they can't meet your financial terms - see if they'll throw in more vacation or work from home one or two days a week.

good, good and good. helpful = yes. much thanks.

Being a young designer who has been freelancing for years now and looking to get into an agency, I have to say this is an EXCELLENT resource. I have been on several interviews already and start sweating when they ask me what kind of compensation I am looking for because I want to make a decent amount but not ask for too much. I wish I would have read this a lot sooner, I think I would have been in a much better position then to negotiate salary range. I definitely like both Casper's and gemma's answers, thanks for all the help tips everyone.

- Kevin

I second winedunce. Money is not everything. I'd give my eye teeth to get to 'telecommute' a day or 2 a week. That alone is work $10K.

There are some great books out there on negotiating salaries. Take a look and just remember, don't leave any cookies on the table.

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