How to Negotiate Salary

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By Sakina Rangwala
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Sunday, November 23, 2008

The road to negotiating salary is filled with ups, downs and doubts. We spoke to several experts about the process.

What Am I Worth?

Finding out what you are worth requires research, self-reflection and networking.

Robin Meyer, associate director of the Office of Career Counseling at Williams College, said salary survey sites on the Web can be helpful in determining salaries, and also recommended the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) as a good source. Job postings and ads also help.

Look into your professional history and ask yourself, "What do I bring to the table?" Get advice from vocation and job counselors if you don't know where you're headed, said Cary Silberman, a human resource consultant with the Negotiation Institute.

Meyer suggests documenting your professional progress.

"Keep a kudos file to keep track of items like positive work evaluations, examples of your best work, thank-you notes from clients, awards or recognitions so that you have them at your fingertips when you need them."

Most important: Network, network, network. Experts agree that the best source of salary information is other people in the same field.

"You are worth different amounts in different markets. . . . What's more, you may be worth more to one company than you would be to another," said Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a career counseling and outplacement organization.

What Factors Affect My Worth?

Many people believe that skills, experience and education are the only things that affect salary. But other factors, such as location, industry and company size can determine your worth, said Joe Kilmartin, managing director of compensation consulting at Salary.com.

He noted that worth sometimes depends on the state of the job market and the personality of the applicant.

"Personality is a very important factor, because you may have the best background but if your personality does not mesh into an organization, you may not get what you are worth," he said.

How do you determine the typical salary for a position? Check the job announcement for a salary range. If it's not listed, do some research. "For a unique job, look at job sites specific to your occupation, like nurses should go to a job site catering specifically to health-care workers," Kilmartin said.


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