During an interview, many job applicants get caught unprepared when asked salary questions. Poor answers to money questions can cost the applicant the job, or if hired, can result in being paid thousands of dollars less than the employer would have been willing to pay. The following steps can prepare you to negotiate your salary like a pro!

1. Know the salary range you can expect to be paid for the position you have targeted. Not knowing this information is like trying to negotiate on a new car without knowing the dealer's costs. You must know this in order to negotiate effectively. Here are some ways you can find salary information for your target position:

Internet sites:

- A great resource is found at www.salary.com.

-Salary information can also be found at the O*NET site

-Information can also be obtained through the Occupational Outlook Handbook, other Internet sites, state/federal employment departments and employment agencies. Printed information will be dated, and may be national rather than specific to your geographic region.

-You can also conduct a labor market survey to obtain accurate salary information for yourgeographic area. A labor market survey consists of calling five to ten employers who would hire people for the position you are targeting.  Ask them how often they have positions open and the approximate salary range for the job when they do have positions open. By surveying a number of employers you can determine an appropriate salary range for the position for which you are applying.

2. Remember that pay is negotiable.  Employers usually do not have one particular dollar   amount in mind for a position.  Instead, they typically have a range (for example, $40,000 to $50,000) within which they will be willing to negotiate. An employer's goal usually is to get the     right employee for the least amount possible.  After all, they are running a business and have to consider their bottom line. Their first offer, therefore, is usually not the top dollar they are willing to pay.                                

3. Try to avoid discussing salary (and other benefits) until the employer is interested in hiring you. The time you have the most power to negotiate is from the time the employer wants you up to the time you accept the position. If salary questions are brought up early in the interview attempt to defer the questions. If, however, the employer insists that you answer at that time, or if you are asked after the employer has indicated that they are interested in you, be prepared with a strategy for responding that still leaves you room to negotiate.  

For example, if the employer asks, "What are your salary requirements?" you can respond by saying that while salary is important, right now you are more concerned as to whether you are a good fit for the position. Tell the employer that once you both determine that you are the right person, you're sure that the two of you can come up with a satisfactory salary amount.


4. Once you are given a firm job offer, and the company has offered you a specific salary amount, you are now in a position to negotiate, if needed. For example, you are offered $45,000 per year and based on your market research, a more appropriate salary for someone with your skills and experiences is $50,000 per year.

Negotiate by using questions, not ultimatums.  You can state, for example:  "Mr. Employer, I appreciate your job offer. I am excited about the duties of the job, the company seems to be a good fit for me and I believe that you and I could work well together. I'm wondering if you could come up to $50,000 per year?"