Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Negotiating a Salary? Five Steps to Getting it Right

By Greg Simpson on May 22, 2014

In the United States, joblessness is falling to levels last seen before the Great Recession. But those hoping that the labor market has, at last, turned in favor of job seekers will be disappointed by the latest BLS findings. In April, over 800,000 Americans left the labor force, presumably having lost hopes of finding a job. Earnings, meanwhile, remain where they’ve been for nearly a decade—stagnating.

Those of us still hunting for jobs must be cannier than ever, not only in landing a suitable position but in negotiating a salary commensurate with our talents. In a tough market, it pays to take a careful, well-reasoned approach. Consider these 5 key steps toward a successful negotiation:

  1. Arm yourself with the facts. No one ever benefited by bargaining from ignorance. Revealing what existing employees are earning, websites such as and Indeed can help you determine a figure your prospective employer might accept.  Be sure to download LHH’s 2014 Salary Guide for quick access to salary data.
  2. Avoid salary discussions until the interview process is near an end. Once you know what they want (you), you’re likelier to get what you want.
  3. Be honest about your current or most recent salary. You don’t want to start a job only to have a truth emerge that compromises your credibility.
  4. Once you’ve received an offer, don’t fear presenting a counter. It’s expected and demonstrates a healthy sense of self-worth. But don’t do it more than once.
  5. Keep your cool. Energy and enthusiasm are pluses but not if they betray anxiety and desperation.

With wage levels remaining flat, you can’t expect salary negotiations in the future to correct flawed negotiations in the past. So get it right, right from the start.

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