The 3 Things to Bring to the Negotiating Table

The most common mistake in salary negotiations, and the one that can cost you the most, is lack of preparation. Many people feel confident of winging the interview and salary negotiation portions of a job search. Now, I’m all for self confidence. I spend a lot of time talking with clients about it at coaching sessions. But leaving your salary and benefits to the whim of your employer, well, it’s just not a good idea.

Here’s an example of an interview situation a client is facing this week. He has been invited to interview for a network technician job. He is not quite done with his AAS in Network Administration and his CCNA, so that’s a wonderful thing.

The catch is that the job is about 70 minutes from his home where his wife owns a business. She doesn’t want to move, and neither of them wants to give up the house they built only six years ago. He lives in a region where winters mean blizzards and bad roads. Can he afford to commute or rent a studio apartment to reduce driving time and give him a place to stay when snow or ice threatens?

He may not need to use this information until the second interview, but he prefers to have it available to him at this point. With that in mind, he needs to find three pieces of information to be prepared to negotiate:

  • His personal wants and requirements.
  • The range the company will pay.
  • The average salary paid in his geographical area.

First, he gets out the household budget and figures out the minimum he will accept. This process should also define and prioritize the benefits he needs and wants and what he is willing to negotiate away.

Second, if there is no salary range listed on the job posting, he calls the company’s HR Department and asks what the salary range is for the job. If they say there is none, or it depends on experience, he asks what the current employee in that position earns. If that is not forthcoming, as well, he networks his way to someone else in the company who may know or can find out.

Third, he determines what the average salary is in the company’s geographic area. The best place to look for that is On the main page, he clicks the salaries link in the upper left corner of the screen. He fills in the search fields and scrolls down to see the average salary, national salary trend, and average salaries of jobs with related titles (with links back to those jobs).

If he needs additional information, such as a general job description, national employment trends for that field, or lists of related positions, he can also visit:

He can also contact a research company or job search specialist to perform the research. They often require completion of a form or a phone interview to define the desired position.

Guest Expert:

Jeri Hird Dutcher offers effective job search strategies for executives and professionals in technology fields such as IT, IS, Web Development, E-commerce, and Engineering.

  • Her process-oriented approach to the job search includes coaching sessions on Goal Attainment, Company Research, and Job Search Campaign Strategy.
  • She also teaches Interview Preparation and Salary Negotiations.
  • In addition, she goes right for the interview with unique, powerful resumes, cover letters, and online profiles based on the achievement model.

For a free initial consultation, contact her at , , or 218.399.1010.

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