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The Now, The New & The Next in Careers

Interviewing & Salary Negotiation Articles

Stay ahead of the curve with insights from our CTL Associates.

  • 03 Oct 2015 4:44 PM | Marie Zimenoff (Administrator)
    By Lisa Rangel, CPRW, PHR, CEIC, CJSS, MCS, SNCS & OPNS

    Asking for a salary increase properly is an art and a science. There are many tactics to do to receive the above average pay raise that you want. However, during my time as a recruiter and a manager, I have seen many things that an employee should absolutely not do when asking for a pay raise. I list some of them here and welcome your additional ideas:

    (1)   Cite that you work hard with no achievements list. Don’t expect your boss or executive management to keep tabs on what you have done for them. Working hard allows you to keep your job and come back the next day—not get a raise. Results and achievements you accomplish could put you in a position to get a raise. Brag about what you do and let them see your value.

    (2)   Expect a raise because you deserve it. Don’t demonstrate your entitlement due to tenure versus achievement. No one will give you a raise, just because you think you deserve one since you have been there a long time. It is like the song says, “What have you done for me lately?”

    (3)   Be unprepared with no data. Before you ask for a raise, show that you have researched salary sites and have done some investigation to see if you are paid below, at or above market value for your expertise and skills. If you expect your employer to do the research to give you what you deserve, you might as well stay home and not ask.

    (4)   Quote fairness and remind them that Joe in accounting is making more than you, and you have been there longer.  Don’t demand a raise because you heard another coworker received one or is making more than you. In fact, that is often what can put you on the “Don’t give him a raise” list. I tell my kids, life isn’t fair…what side do you want to be on? And then do all of the right things to be on that side to get the raise you want.

    (5)   Ask with your tail between your legs. Nothing is more unattractive than lack of confidence. Employers want to know they are giving their money to the ‘A’ players within the organization. If you start off your request with, “I was hoping to chat with you about something when you are not too busy…,” I say pack up and go home. Make an appointment with your manager outlining what you would like to discuss, and be confident and prepared. This is a business discussion like all others…so treat it as such.

    (6)   Outline how you need the raise. To me, this is the kiss of death! No one cares that your daughter needs braces, or your son is going to college or that your spouse lost his/her job. Everyone is experiencing a higher cost of living—including your employer. Your employer is not entitled to give you the funds you need for your budget shortfalls. However, if you prove your worth and continually achieve, you may receive a raise that recognizes your merits that your employer would be happy to give to you.

    (7)   Threaten to quit. Even if you are ready to leave that minute, this is never an effective tactic. Whatever time you buy or raise you get, will be temporary while your employer looks for your replacement. No one wants to be held hostage.

    Email: lisa.rangel@chameleonresumes.com
    Twitter: www.Twitter.com/lisarangel
    Phone: 917-447-1815
  • 26 Oct 2013 8:18 PM | Anonymous
    By Kathleen Sullivan

    Having the right answers to the right questions is critical to the success of your job interview.  However, the interviewer may not always ask the most critical questions directly. To ensure that you cover the three most important interview questions, provide answers to those questions whether the interviewer asks or not. The three most important interview questions to answer:

    Question 1: “Can you do the job?”

    If the interviewer does not ask this question specifically, he will ask similar questions such as: “What experience do you bring to this job?” or “What are your top three accomplishments related to this position?” Here, the interview is asking how you are qualified to do the job.

    To ensure that you convince the interviewer that you can the job, take the following steps: Review the position description closely and highlight the key competencies and experience that is required. Assess the individuals and teams both within and outside of the organization you will interface with such as other managers, staff, colleagues, clients, and vendors. Identify any specialized technologies or tools you will need to use for the position. 

    Take this information and craft answers for the interviewer that highlight your experience and results using the required skills and knowledge, your past success at communicating with and working with people who will be involved with this role, and how you have learned and applied any of the technologies and tools that will be used for this position. Weave this information and supporting examples into the conversation as you discuss your background, your skills and accomplishments, and your summary at the end of the interview. You will be focusing the conversation on your qualifications for the position and building your credibility with the interviewer as someone who is well qualified to do the job.  

    Question 2: “Will you do the job?”

    Again, the interviewer may not ask his question directly, but he will be trying to find out your level of commitment and motivation for doing the job. This question is more subtle and abstract to answer. During the interview, you may say that you are “enthusiastic” or “passionate” about the job. However, those statements do not provide the interviewer with any substantial or memorable information.

    To convince the interviewer you are motivated and enthusiastic about the position, provide examples. Describe actions you have taken and results you achieved because you were dedicated to a project or team. Show that you have faced and overcome obstacles to achieve project or company goals. Explain how you will leverage your energy and drive to meet the challenges and responsibilities required of their position. By providing these examples that showcase your willingness to do the job, you will continue to build your credibility with the interviewer and enable him to see the value you will bring to that role.

    Question 3: “Do you fit in?”

    Being a good fit for a company is critical to individual, team, and organizational success. Throughout the interview, the interviewer will be assessing your style, language, and attitude to weigh whether you will assimilate effectively into his company. If the company is fast paced and flexible and you appear or sound staid and rigid, the interviewer will have the impression that you will not function effectively within that company’s culture.

    To reassure the interviewer that you will fit in there, evaluate the organizational image projected on their website, in their promotional materials, and in the job description. Be honest with yourself as to whether you can fit in there comfortably. If yes, use those images and language in your answers and examples for interview questions, even if the question about fit is not asked specifically. If they have a fast paced and flexible environment, give examples of how you have worked for dynamic environments and teams and have managed ongoing changes effectively. Also, describe the steps you will take to rapidly learn about their company and culture and adapt to their environment.

    By drawing these connections, you will be allowing the interviewer to envision you in this role and as part of his organization. Answering interview questions about whether you are qualified to do the job, motivated to do the job, and will fit in with an organization is critical to convince an interviewer to hire you for a position. If the interviewer does not ask these three questions directly, take the initiative, prepare for them ahead of time, and provide answers that show you are the best person for that job.

  • 19 Jul 2013 2:25 PM | Anonymous

    By Kathleen Sullivan

    Salary negotiations are personal. Your professional self-esteem and value are on the line. How and what you negotiate for your salary is part of your on-going relationship with a potential or current employer and the basis for future compensation. Salary negotiations can take place at any point in the recruiting process and often begin as soon as you make contact with an employer. Any of these events can open a salary negotiation:

    • When you fill out an application form or write a cover letter.
    • During your initial call or phone screen with the employer.
    • At formal interviews, either with HR or the hiring manager.
    • During a scheduled salary negotiation.
    • After a job offer has been made.

    You must be able to negotiate skillfully and effectively to have a successful job search and reach your overall career goals.  Here are three strategies with practical steps you can take to plan, conduct, and achieve salary winning negotiations.

    Prepare ahead of time for salary negotiations: Research current salary information for the industry, company, role, and geographical location for every position before you apply. Gather salary insights and information from multiple sources including industry and trade surveys, job boards, salary web sites, recruiters, and networking with colleagues and insiders from a specific company.

    Be clear about your own financial needs and professionals salary goals for this immediate job and to position yourself for future compensation. Understand the employer’s requirements and restrictions. 

    Employers will have to weigh their organizational compensation models and current market value as well as build a basis for future reward for the position. Be aware of the dynamics and timing of the negotiations. External forces such as a market downturn or internal factors like a less than expected profit from a prior financial quarter may impact an employer’s salary offer. Assess your strength as a candidate. 

    How much does the company really need you? 

    How rare are your skills in the marketplace? 

    How long has the position been open?

    Establish your salary range for negotiations. Your salary range is based on the information you gathered and spans the lowest and highest figure you have determined to be fair for that position. You will use this salary range to negotiate, regardless of what you earned in the past.

    Adopt a winning negotiating style: Who should bring up the topic of money first? Not you. There is nothing to be gained by introducing the topic of salary. You risk giving the employer information to eliminate you. 

    An old adage in negotiations:  whoever mentions money first, loses. Maintain a positive negotiation approach. 

    Do not give a negative impression or contradict who are by acting tough or stubborn. A collaborative style is more effective and will enable the employer to perceive you as fair and a team player. Focus on your financial and professional goals, rather than on winning.  

    It is more important to achieve these goals than score a point and potentially alienate an employer. Find multiple areas where there are opportunities to negotiate.  

    Most negotiation topics are not a yes or no decision point.  Decide what is worth negotiating and how you want to ask for it. 

    You may not always get what you want, but you may be surprised by what you do get. Constantly re-enforce the value you will bring to the organization. 

    Throughout your discussions, emphasize the value that your knowledge and skills will bring to the organization and the results you will help achieve. Do not make an impromptu decision during a negotiation. 

    Decide that you will be flexible and open during the negotiation discussions. Know when to stop bargaining. There is a point in every negotiation where you have gained everything that is reasonable.  One way to lose everything is to appear stubborn or greedy.

    Finalize the salary negotiation on a positive note: When a salary offer is extended, wait 24 hours before making a decision. 

    During this time, review all aspects of the offer, and weigh it against other actual or anticipated offers.  Discuss it with family members and colleagues. 

    Evaluate whether it is fair relative to the current market and if it meets your financial and professional goals and positions your for growth.

    If the salary offer does not reflect what you believe is fair for the market value or employer’s standard compensation for the position, broaden the negotiation to include other aspects of compensation such as benefits, bonus or profit sharing, vacation time, relocation, tuition reimbursement, or other job satisfiers such as flexible work hours. Be prepared to turn down an offer. 

    If you cannot reach an agreement, be prepared to provide a reason to the employer that you cannot accept the offer and end on a positive note. If you determine the offer meets your financial needs and professional goals, graciously accept the offer. 

    Follow up with a written thank you for the offer and express your enthusiasm for your new position.

    Salary negotiations are complex and have long term ramifications for your personal well-being and your professional career. 

    To be successful, you must be well-equipped with the right information, attitude, and strategies to achieve a win / win salary negotiation.

  • 21 May 2013 4:08 PM | Anonymous

    By Kathleen Sullivan

    You have researched the company, networked with your contacts there, and practiced your answers to difficult interview questions.  You are focused, ready, and eager to interview.  The interviewer begins and you quickly realize he is not talking about the company, has not read (or does not remember) your resume, and is preoccupied with other matters. 

    The interview is going off course -- and it is up to you to salvage the situation. Unfortunately, not everyone who will be conducting an interview has the background or skills to know what topics to discuss, questions to ask, or how to engage the candidate in a meaningful interview dialogue.  If you encounter an interviewer who is not skilled at interviewing, you will need to take a greater role in the interview process or it will become a lost opportunity.

    Here are some tactics you can take to turn a misguided interview around: To make an interview meaningful, the interviewer needs to provide information about the organization, its business goals and challenges, and the objectives of the position he is filling. If the interviewer is discussing other topics or talking in circles, you need to get him reoriented and addressing information that is critical to having a productive interview.  Shift the conversation by asking pointed questions: 

    How well is the company meeting its organizational goals?  What are its top business challenges? 

    What results are expected from the person who is being hired? 

    Once he shares this information, start a conversation by describing how you can leverage your experience to contribute to advancing the goals of the company and solving its problems. 

    By focusing the interviewer on the company, its needs, and your value to them, you will be on the right track and have a framework for the interview.

    If the interviewer does not have a good grasp (or any grasp) of the information you provided on your resume, give him the information by delivering a two to three minute overview of your background and qualifications:  cite the companies where you have worked, the positions you have held, your key successes, and the strategies and skills you used to accomplish them. 

    Providing the interviewer with your professional summary will give him context for the discussion as well as give you the opportunity to sell yourself as a candidate.

    If the interviewer is more interested in answering his phone, checking emails, or looking at items on his desk than in talking with you, use open-ended questions to get his attention and engage him in a conversation. 

    Try asking questions such as: 

    -       Where will the company be innovating in the next few years? 

    -       How is the company dealing with the competition? 

    -       How did he become successful at the company? 

    By asking the interviewer complex questions, you will be getting him to concentrate on the interview and build some momentum. 

    You also will be gathering information that will allow you to comment on what he shares, position yourself as the right candidate, and continue to move the dialogue forward.

    Interviewers do not always follow interview protocol or a script. As Forrest Gump noted, “You never know what you’ll get.” You may get surprises regarding their approach, competence, and attitude which can undermine the interview.

    Encountering an interviewer who is not managing the interview effectively places an additional responsibility on you. However, don’t waste this opportunity. In addition to being prepared for your role in an interview, be ready to manage the flow of the interview and guide the interviewer through the process and make it a success.

  • 01 Feb 2012 4:21 PM | Anonymous

    By Don Orlando

    It’s natural for you to be concerned about upcoming interviews. But when you explore the dynamics of those conversations, some of the anxiety will go away. This post helps you do just that. When it comes to folklore about how to manage your career (and there are tons of it!), the interview often gets center stage. That may be because of the false assumptions about the subject. Assumption one: the interviewer is very prepared for the process. The truth: most interviewers aren’t trained for interviewing at all.

    According to Adam Grant, Associate Professor of Management at the Wharton School “Many managers do no better than random chance in selecting high performers.” (October, 2011) Assumption two: there are 10 (or is it 15? 20?) “magic” questions I have to memorize the answers to in order to do well in the interview.

    The truth: while some questions are common, it’s hard to believe anybody has gotten a buy off on the magic set of questions as they apply, unchanged, to every career field in every industry in every sector all across America. And even if the idea is true, you’d have to not only memorize those questions (and an answer for each one), you’d have to recognize them no matter how they were expressed and respond well no matter which order they came in.

    It’s no surprise if we leave the interview in the hands of the almost-always-untrained interviewer, what we get is an interrogation. But what you both want is a collaboration. You want to know the most pressing problem they have as it relates to your career field. After all, if you don’t know what they need, you can’t tell if you can help them. You’ve had those successful collaborations all your work life.

    Your boss asks you to solve a problem. You speak with her to find the basic information you need to start working on the solution. You propose ideas. She responds. Soon there is an agreement about what you are going to do, why you’re doing it, and how your work benefits the organization. That—by definition—is an interview!

    Entire books are written about the interview. My purpose was just to introduce a key idea. Make every interview into a collaboration by asking about the key problem the employer needs solved. When you do everybody wins, because the discussion is on ground comfortable to you and the person you’re speaking with.

    It’s all about our favorite conversation: how you’re going to help the organization make a lot more money than it takes to recruit and retain you. You know. It’s the same conversation that made your career successful.

  • 26 May 2011 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    By Stephanie Clark

    What is it that makes the interview team’s ears perk up, their scribbling of answers to intensify, their collective energy to positively electrify the room? Is it related to the candidate’s charisma, brand of aftershave or cologne, or a candidate’s relation to the CEO? Read on to get to the bottom of what creates interview magic.

    Actually, an interview’s magic is more related to the resume than to aftershave or connections. Like the resume, the interview must include critical pieces of information to spark intense interest that leads to a sense of hiring urgency. As a foundational job search piece, the resume comes first. Akin to the 2x4s that create a building structure’s form, a resume structures your credentials into easy to follow information that identifies relevant skills and distills years of practice into performance highlights.

    Consider the following when creating either your resume’s content or your interview answers: Identify the skills you possess that are necessary, and I don’t mean “great communication skills”! Hard skills will build your credibility faster than claiming that you know how to speak. Show you have the actual skills needed to be a programmer, an elementary school teacher, a chief administrative officer or bus driver.

    Now pepper your replies to typical interview questions with these skills. These are also referred to as key words and key phrases. A few key word examples, taken from diverse position requirements, are as follows: exceeding sales objectives, planning operational strategies, identifying market share, applying behavior management, conducting executive level presentations, adhering to safety standards and procedures, using Point of Sale (POS) technology. Now you’re talkin’!

    And speaking of “talkin’” you’ll have plenty of opportunity during the interview to prove your communication prowess. This is something that many people have some trouble with. From nerves that thwart the tongue’s cooperation to a lack of preparation that makes valuable details scarce, the typical interviewee makes us think more of Homer Simpson than a seasoned performer.

    Is there a way to ensure that you get your point across? Of course! Weave a story, tell a (true) tale and mesmerize the interview team with those “great communication skills” that you most likely have referred to in your resume. Again, sprinkle your workplace accomplishment story with the skills you used in delivering on that feat, and you’re a shoo-in.

    Interview magic requires preparation, research, self-knowledge and knowledge of the challenges facing the company to which you’ve applied. And it’s not magic at all, although it might feel like it when they call you to offer you the position.
  • 09 May 2011 6:02 PM | Anonymous

    By Stephanie Clark

    An effective interview is a conversation with questions posed, and answers given, by both sides.  And, as in a conversation, its evolution into a meaningful discussion depends on the quality of information shared. What do you do, then, when asked a question for which you have a less-than-optimal reply? I remember being in an interview where I had to respond, somehow, to a question for which my nerve-addled brain could devise no response! Interview “freeze-ups” happen, as do less-than desired responses, when we are forced to reply to a question with a truthful “no,” when the recruiters would prefer to hear “yes.”

    Faced with these deflating experiences, most interviewees feel that the game is over and they lost. This is precisely where the typical interviewee is short-changing his or her potential hire. To which I say, “Nonsense!” If you made it to the interview, your credentials - education, experience, and skills - are at least equal to the requirements (remember that the job posting may be a “wish-list,” reflecting the best of the best scenario; the actual list of requirements may be a good deal more realistic). If you were called for an interview, you have every expectation of an equal chance to wow the interviewers and land an offer. But giving up the effort because of one “stumpifying” question isn’t an effective strategy.

    What to do then, if you cannot come up with a response, or if you have to answer “no” where you wish you could have answered “yes”? For a question that has you frozen, like a deer in the headlights, unable to think of even a partial reply, pick up your pen and jot down the question while sharing “You know, I simply cannot think of anything at this moment.

    Let me note that down and get back to you with something.” This provides you with a perfect topic to include in your “thank you” email or note. Can’t claim that you have a certificate in whatever, or that you’ve worked with the employer’s brand of database, or that you have project managed a project with that large a budget, and you wish you had?

    Find something related, for example: Maybe you don’t hold that certificate, but have worked with people who have, and they’ve all said “Where did you learn all that? I didn’t even learn that during my certificate course.” Prove your expertise with examples of how your trouble shooting skills saved time, money, or the need for additional manpower etc. 

    It may well be that you project managed five smaller projects that together exceeded that budget. Prove your value by building further context, explaining how you brought each project in on time, under or on budget, and how one of these won you an award and why.

    Databases abound, and instead of saying no, tell them about how you have learned three new databases in each of the last three positions, some without any instruction other than “playing” with the system for a few hours.

    The trick is to seize each opportunity to sell your audience on your abilities. Don’t drop the ball in self-defeat - take a shot! Wow the recruitment team with your ability to communicate as well as with your enthusiasm and credentials.

  • 09 May 2011 5:57 PM | Anonymous

    By John O'Connor

    If a doctor were to saunter into an operating room ready to do heart surgery, but he had looked at no diagnostic tests, no imaging, and conducted no research on the patient, you would say this doctor must be profoundly arrogant. Yet many job candidates saunter into interviews the same way—totally unprepared. In this I will share my Top Five List of what you need to do and develop (as marketing tools) if you want to make absolutely sure that you show up for the interview completely prepared: ready to discuss your prospective employer, and ready to share your own value.

    Build a Foundation – If you do not have a proper foundation for your house, almost anything can knock it down. The same goes for a career strategy. At the very least, a potential employer will easily separate the champions from the chumps. Even if the job market is strong, no company or organization wants to hire an average person. They want the best. So what should you do to prepare, foundationally? Know everything about the company, their values, their brand, their products, their competition, and your value proposition. Talk to the people who work there or have worked there. Perform and pay for extensive research on the company.

    Use Military Precision – If you were entering today’s high-tech and treacherous battlefield, you would want to own every available advantage. We find out from our transitioning military personnel that you can’t control everything but you must control what you can. Do not underestimate the level of preparation needed to master every interview phase. Lack of interview preparation may kill your candidacy. You must prepare for screenings, one on one, panel, group, videoconference, lunch, dinner and, today, the video phone screen. That’s right. Every person should be ready to be interviewed in almost every conceivable situation, including answering your iPhone and being asked to go through an interview.

    Creatively Prepare for Every Type of Interview – Do you really need to know the kinds of phone screening questions a human resources person might ask? Does it matter if you really master the structured in-person interview? What if you have an unstructured one-on-one interview? Have you ever experienced or would you know how to handle a Stress, Situational, Panel, Committee or Group interview? They are all different. You need preparation for each.

    Embrace the Unusual – One of our clients was asked to write a white paper in three days about how he would benefit a future employer. Another client was asked to answer video interview questions as a preliminary step to their in-person interview. Another client was asked to schedule a panel interview that would be conducted through Skype. Another client was asked to write a case study about employment and solving the company’s current problems. Late in the interview stage one of our clients was asked to write a 10-page business plan for a company even before being hired.

    Go to Sound Bite Level – “I don’t need to memorize my interview answers,” said one job seeker we interviewed. “I just kind of fly by the seat of my pants and it has worked before.” Flying by the seat of one’s pants has interesting implications for the interview, but we never recommend making it a part of your method to be hired. He’s right. You should not memorize answers you see in a book or read online about your interview.

    But you need to be well versed, rehearsed and trained about how you will handle certain questions. If you have not practiced your script, gone off your script, as they say, and if you cannot improvise effectively through the interview process, then you are not ready. You need help. If a 30-second Hollywood commercial production takes a week to shoot, how much more time should you dedicate to practicing the sale of yourself for your next career move, your next life move and your next move toward your work-life mission? It’s important.

  • 18 Apr 2011 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Stephanie Clark

    In my experience as a career practitioner, I know that too few people actually think about their interviewing weak points. Too many ascribe interview failures to an act of fate (wasn’t meant to be), or abject apathy (oh well), than consider that maybe, just maybe, the fault lies in their court. And while accepting that not all jobs, and hence not all interviews, are good matches, what if you lost a truly plum job, a dream job, because you chose to ignore your interviewing weakness? Is ignorance of interview tactics and strategies worth that price?

    Common sense suggests that it is best to take heed and address the aspect of the interview that you’d rather hide from. For some, this is a case of nerves that leaves one’s hands sweaty, for others it’s a case of rambling on and on, well aware that the interviewer’s eyes are glazing over in complete boredom; in reality there are likely as many possibilities as people. Take heart as there are strategies and remedies for all. A bit of research is in order, or perhaps a one-hour appointment with an effective career practitioner. Here are a few of the common areas of concern.

    1. If nerves are your issue, eat a banana, do some deep breathing, or get thee to a health food store for an herbal remedy! Other ideas include simply practicing and being prepared; this will alleviate many cases of the jitters. (Why bananas, you ask? They contain potassium, which helps calm the nerves.)

    2. Perhaps you are a rambler. On and on you drone, and more and more you lose your audience’s attention! Again, of course there are remedies. Consider joining a local speaker’s club, such as Toastmasters, to learn the tricks and tactics to keeping your message succinct while captivating your audience. Visit your local library to review a book on presenting. Or hire an interview coach to provide you with insight into what it is that the interview team would most enjoy hearing about, and how to phrase your reply for maximum impact.

    3. Maybe you’re just afraid of not knowing the answer to one, unanticipated question? Strategy is what you need. You can never know exactly what you will be asked, and thus strategy is key to quickly developing answers to any of the hundreds of possible questions. Here’s another idea: just admit to your interviewers that you can’t come up with anything at the moment, promise to get back to them, and use that as an ideal add-on to the content of your “thank you” email! The possibilities are, of course, endless.

    But whether you fear a grumbly tummy, being late, or not making a connection, there are solutions to all. Some are easy, and I leave you to solve them with a bit of research. But if you require the insight of a career professional, I invite you to connect with a respected career professional, such as the many experts here on Career Thought Leaders. Your dream job may hinge on action - don’t sit idle!

  • 18 Apr 2011 5:51 PM | Anonymous

    By Heather Krasna

    “More?? You want more??!” is the cry we remember from Oliver Twist’s warden when poor Oliver asks for more gruel at the orphanage. Well, this is actually not the common response from employers when candidates have negotiated their salary. I have coached several job seekers in the last month to successfully increase the salary of job offers. Two come to mind in particular, both in local government jobs which officially had hiring freezes.

    In one of these two cases, the candidate was offered a position at a level 2 grade and wanted to make the case that he was worthy of a level 3 grade because of his master’s degree. I called one of my contacts at the human resources department and asked how salary grades related to education and other credentials, and was told that the grades don’t necessarily correlate with anything except the length of time an employee is in the job (in this particular city government).

    The HR representative said “I seriously doubt whether he would get any more than what is offered, because we are laying people off and have a hiring freeze.” I conveyed all this to the candidate, but added that since he had already been offered the job and the department members were all very enthusiastic about him, he really had nothing to lose by just asking for a higher salary.

    We worked on a pitch in which the candidate emphasized how excited he was about the offer and how well he fit (and even exceeded) the requirements of the job. He made a strong case that his education and experience would allow him to bring the position to an even higher level than was asked for, and in the end he was successfully granted the level 3 grade of pay, which was significantly higher than the offered level.

    My general advice about salary negotiation in a down economy is that candidates should be especially respectful and careful about how they go about negotiating. They might even start the conversation with a statement like “I’d like to make sure that I wouldn’t jeopardize my offer with you by just asking about salary.”

    After getting reassurance that asking the question wouldn’t lose them the offer, the candidates can then go about negotiating the same way as usual, emphasizing how they exceed the requirements of the job, and/or how the average salary in the field might be more than what is offered (after doing research on salaries).

    If an employer doesn’t have the budget to give more than the offered salary, they can say so, and you still haven’t lost anything. They can even laugh at you! But it doesn’t matter as long as you’ve at least tried. The part that is the hardest isn’t the negotiating of salary, but the landing of an offer in the first place, especially if the economy is not doing well.

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