It is important to be well prepared to negotiate a salary that will pay you what you are worth. Job seekers need to spend time researching salaries in their industry in order to successfully negotiate the maximum salary for the job offered.
Salary.com has a "salary wizard" that allows users to enter a job category and match it to a zip code or location. The wizard then generates a salary report with wage, bonus and benefits information.
If relocation is a possibility, spend some time researching what your current or potential salary is worth in a new location. Move.com has a "salary calculator" tool where users can enter a salary, then receive a report on how much they will need to earn in a new location. The cost-of-living varies widely from city to city, so, it's important to know the purchasing power of your paycheck.
It's important to note that the employer is paying you for your qualifications and for the job you will do. With that in mind you will need to be able to support your negotiations with information on what the job is worth at a fair market rate with consideration of your salary history. They aren't going to be willing to pay you more just because you are you!
Now that you are armed with the facts, patience is in order. When interviewing for a new position it is important not to bring up compensation until the employer makes a job offer. Let the employer make the first move. If you are asked what your salary requirements are, say that they are flexible, based upon the position and the total compensation package including benefits. An alternative is to tell the employer you'd like to know more about the job responsibilities prior to discussing salary. Another option is to give the employer a salary range based upon salary research you've just completed and cite the research you have done.
Keep in mind that there may not be much flexibility. If the employer has a budget or an established salary structure, the best you might get is the top of the range for that particular position. In that case, don't limit yourself to salary alone. If the employer can't afford to pay more, ask about the possibility of salary reviews sooner rather than later, extra vacation, or even a bonus based on performance.
Be discreet - never let an employer know you need money. It definitely will not help and it might make you look desperate. However, always be honest about your past salary history and other job offers that are on the table. Lies have a strange way of coming back to haunt the person who didn't tell the truth.
Once you've received the offer, plan on taking some time to think about it. There is no need to accept or reject it right away. A simple "I need to think it over" may get you an increase in the original offer. One candidate, who had decided that they really didn't want the job after all, said "no" three times only to get three higher offers! Be mindful that this could also have the opposite effect because the employer could decide that you are asking more than he is willing to pay and accept the "no" response as final. So, it is important to fully know what your bottom line is for each position you apply for. If the salary isn't enough for you to live on be prepared to pass on the job.
Regardless of whatever stage of negotiations you may be in remember to remain positive and continue to reiterate your interest in the position. Let the employer know that the only issue is the salary and you are really excited about the job and the company. Then, if the position does sound like the perfect job, consider whether the company culture, including the benefits and flexibility, as well as the job itself are worth it - regardless of the salary. If they are, it might just be worth accepting the position and taking a chance that the salary increases will follow!