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"The salary is below the market average, but the position is exactly what I'm looking for...decisions, decisions..."

The Key to Getting Your Ideal Salary

May 8, 2015

For job seekers and the employed alike, income is important. You want to find or have a salary that you feel accurately reflects your experience, ability and qualifications, but negotiating that salary can be challenging. Even if you’re just hunting for a short-term internship, the money you earn matters.

Sometimes, it works out perfectly and a company offers you exactly what you were hoping to make based on your education, experience, and qualifications. Many times, though, there is a difference between the number you have in mind and the number that is presented to you.

So, how can you make sure you’re getting your ideal salary?

It might take some negotiation

Chances are, you will have a conversation with your new or potential employer about your salary and benefits, giving you a chance to negotiate your ideal income.

Nell, a hiring expert at Pitney Bowes acknowledges that negotiating a salary can be a touchy subject, but that a positive response and reaction is the first necessary step. “Show excitement that you received an offer. Even if it is the worst offer that you have ever received, they still chose you. Recruiters and managers love to see passion, excitement, and appreciation for the work and effort that has been put into recruiting you.”

Nobody wants to negotiate with someone who is negative or ungrateful, so be sure to come into negotiation conversations first showing excitement and appreciation for what has already been offered.

Know your facts

Research essential to making sure you can earn a salary that works for you and is also realistic for your field and the job market. Your ideal salary might not make sense for the position, and knowing that ahead of time will save you the risk of embarrassing yourself or losing out on a job offer.

John from DuPont says, “[D]o your best to understand the salaries for someone of your background and experience in the specific job location. Do your homework and understand realistic salary ranges. You can compare these ranges to your offer and determine if it makes sense to negotiate.”

Know what you bring to the table

The salary negotiation process can be sensitive, especially if you haven’t had a chance to fully prove yourself to the company or your new boss. They don’t know you well yet, so it’s important that you’ve also done your research on the value of your skills and experiences.

Tara, hiring expert for ADM offers a tip. “It’s okay to negotiate, but knowing what skills you bring to the bargaining table (and what these skills are worth in terms of market value) is a critical first step in the negotiation process.”

Choose your number wisely

Once you feel confident in the skills you bring to the table and what their worth is, it will come time for you to propose your ideal number. If your ideal salary is double the original offer, that position might not be the best fit for you. However, if you’ve been offered a position with another company that offers more money, that can be helpful for you in your counter-offer. Nell says, “[D]isclose that and use that as a reference point.”

Steve, a hiring expert at Caterpillar, Inc. agrees: “When you begin to receive job offers, obviously compare the data that you have collected. If you see a significant gap in what is being offered to you and what the market is dictating, then yes, it is perfectly fine to ask the question if there is any flexibility with the salary offer. The key, however, is not to push too hard.”

Should I take a job with a less-than-ideal salary?

If you find that most entry-level roles have salaries that don’t match what your ideal salary is, there still might be reasons to take that job. It’s the perfect way to gain some practical experience, a fantastic networking opportunity, and a way to get your foot in the door in the field you love.

Cassie, a hiring expert at The Hershey Company, says “[I]f the company and position appear to be in line with your career goals, look at the potential for advancement and know that in a few years, you may have the opportunity to move up and earn a higher salary once you prove yourself.”

The bottom line

If you’re still hunting for that perfect job that helps you earn your ideal income, know that it’s going to take a little work first. Make sure to constantly research positions in your field, salaries, and trends in the job market. Know what skills you bring to the table and what you are worth as an employee. Make sure to show gratitude and appreciation during the negotiation, and stay realistic throughout the process. Work hard to prove yourself, and you will be well on your way to earning your ideal salary.


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