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December 19, 2007


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Thanks for writing about Brazen Careerist.

I wanted to point out that not revealing your salary requirements is super important -- and not that hard to do.

The person interviewing you knows that whoever gives a number first for salary is at a disadvantage, so that person will respect that you are not giving a number. Still, it's the interviewer's job to ask you, becuase it's better for the company in negotiations if they have a number from you.

Here are things to say in order to avoid giving a number first:

I am sure your company pays the market rate for this job, and that will be fine with me.

Let's figure out the scope of the job before we talk about how much it pays.

Why don't you tell me the range of salary you have earmarked for this job and I'll tell you if you're in my range.

Right not the salary is not as important to me as making sure we're a good fit for each other.

I hope this helps. You'll do a lot better in negotiations if you go in thinking that you are capable of not giving the first number for salary.


Penelope --

Do you think it's really that easy?

On the side of the interviewee, I've always been asked and if I've given an evasive answer, I've been asked again. Certainly an unsure interviewer may give up and move to the next question, but anyone I'd ever want to work for wouldn't.

As an interviewer, I would ask and if the person gave me one of the responses above, I'd ask again -- and keep asking until I got an answer. If they didn't want to answer, then they don't want the job, right? Unless I'm interviewing the Michael Jordan of business, at that point I can show them the door.

In reality, I think most interviews happen where both sides know what's being made by the interviewee and what the pay range for the position is before the interview even happens. This information is generally traded back and forth by the interviewee and whoever is doing screening for the interviewer (for higher level hires, this would be a headhunter.)

All this said, I don't think this severely hampers your ability to negotiate a higher salary. If you have the right qualifications and have sold yourself throughout the interview process, the company is invested in you once you have an offer. At this point, you can apply the other strategies noted above to increase the initial offer.

I know that common practice is to negotiate a higher starting salary and companies often offer "low" because they anticipate this. However, when I accepted my current job, the salary they offered me was 20% higher than my salary at my old job. I didn't really have any "ammo" to negotiate with so I felt like I had to accept it with no negotiation. Do you have any advice for someone in this situation?

LC --

First of all, congrats.

Second, some options:

*If it was still below market value, point that out and ask for market value.

*If it's at market value, point out your accomplishments and tell why you should be paid more.

*If you have another offer that's higher, use that to your advantage as well.

*If the offer is well above market value, you're an average employee at best and/or you have no other job options, thank God that you're getting an offer 20% higher than your current salary. ;-)

I believe the offer was market value or just slightly below and the reason it was so much higher than my previous job was that I worked for the government, which tends to pay lower than industry. I just felt that I could have negotiated for more and that's what they were expecting I just didn't have any leg to stand on for those negotiations. Overall, I was pretty happy with the offer.

My employer's offer letters state that all compensation information is confidential. Just tell the interviewer you are not able to divulge compensation information because you signed a non-dislosure agreement.

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