Saturday, December 5, 2009

How Much Am I Worth?

The prospect of coming up with an answer at an interview to this question makes most of us queasy. Yet, in this down economy many employers insist that you reveal a salary range during the interview. If you ask for too much you might believe you can ruin the deal or ask for too little and be unable to pay your bills. So what should you to do?

Experts say prepare before the interview to identify your salary range. This can be accomplished by researching your salary on the internet through Google. There are several businesses that ask you questions and for $49.00 will come up with info on what your skills are worth in today’s job market given your background, experience, and education. When using an on-line salary calculator answer the questions truthfully to get the low, the average and above average salary.

After Googling several free online careers and working through the process, I discovered some of them did not have information about a senior technical writer, my specialty or information systems but there was plenty of free information on many occupations. I also noticed that in general the salaries were a few thousand higher than they were last year. I guess to compensate for the decrease in the value of the dollar some employers have raised their salaries. When dealing with headhunter’s who specialize in contract jobs they try to get you to name a rate before they will submit you for the job. Recently four job shops sent me emails for the same job. I talked with one who demoted my rate by $10 dollars per hour. I said no to that offer. I did not give up and when asked by the next recruiter from another company who was selling the same job; my range was $15 dollars more per hour. He said that the beginning of the range that I had quoted him was “Ball Park” and he would bid me at that rate which was actually $16 dollars more an hour than the previous offer.


When you’re applying for a permanent job, it is best to let the employer bring up salary before disclosing a salary range. Some of employers will try to get this information from you before inviting you to an interview as a way of screening you out. You can always provide a verbal defensive move, “I will be happy to discuss my current salary when we talk about the issue at the interview.”

When asked about salary at the interview you can ask “Are you offering me the job?”
If the answer is yes, be enthusiastic and appreciative. Mention the range you researched and where the information came from. If they give you a low ball offer say you’d like 24 hours to think it over and mention that your expectations for the salary are higher because of your expenses, experience, former work history and compensation. Market your self by documenting your skills and accomplishments and emphasize the reasons why you should get the offer. This will give you the opportunity to see if the employer is flexible with the salary. Try to get their offer in writing before you make up your mind in case you decide to decline the offer. If you say no, be positive and gracious so you can say goodbye on the best of terms. “

There is more to a job than a salary, so it helps to have a long-term strategy, according to Nancy Rehnquist, a Program Management and Communication expert .
“I once needed a job and got a low offer, but the benefits were very good including money for education and professional development. Instead of asking for a higher salary I asked if they could pay my last class in graduate school. They said they could not do it but ended up increasing their offer so that I could take the class.”


Refuse to be intimidated and act with self confidence according to Sandy Bloomberg, a Senior Windows engineer for the government.
“It all depends on what you bring to the table—if you are confident in your skills and capable of talking about it through verbal communication, resume and references than negotiating a salary is a must. Role play and do your homework!

Whether you will negotiate for a better salary depends on your state of mind. For example, one of the first things you learn when playing QB in high school and college is to take what the defense gives you,” according to GM Ralph Medlow.

“If there are eight guys in the box and they are inviting you to pass you’ll likely win yardage, if you run you’ll be thrown for a loss. When you’re in a position to negotiate without fear – you will play hardball. If you have been unemployed you’ll probably take the offer without negotiations.”.

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