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May 16, 2013
Submitted By Dan Davenport

Congratulations! You have just made a successful career transition to that dream job. Making sure your salary and benefits are as lucrative as possible is as much a part of effective career management as outstanding performance. The key is not to wait until you have a job offer before you know what the position is likely to pay and whether your new company is willing (and able) to meet your demands.
Here are five tips to be on your best game when negotiating a dream compensation package:
Tip 1: Polish your pre-game intelligence
The Internet is awash in sites that reveal pay levels for a wide range of jobs in an equally wide variety of industries and fields. So look it up, maybe at several sites, to obtain a likely salary range. The same goes for your prospective employer’s financials. This is easier if the company is publicly traded, but even private corporations make announcements or are in the news. Read between the lines. Is the business growing, or is it facing challenges? Pre-game intelligence gathering can make all the difference in your confidence before you ever sit down for that initial job interview.
Tip 2: Play it close to the vest
Your prospective employer will try to find out your salary at your previous (or current) job. If asked a direct question, instead say, “I’m flexible about salary and benefits, but the pay range for my position in this industry/field is (whatever you find the range to be), and that is the level I am expecting.” Conversely, do your best to find out how flexible the employer will be when making a job offer. Will that be it, or is there wiggle room? You can assess this partly through your pre-game intelligence about the market for your job and the employer’s situation.
Tip 3: Play for time
Don’t accept the offer immediately. Ask for 48 hours to think about it and talk it over with your spouse or significant other. Before you leave the table, ask lots of questions and take notes to make sure you are clear about the entire package, including the base pay level, specific benefits, and any bonuses or bonus potential. Inform the person extending the offer that you will want to negotiate the package.
Tip 4: Play it cool
Salary and benefits negotiations can be intense. But they are a good way to show how professional, courteous, and nimble you can be under pressure. You don’t ask, you don’t get, so do not hesitate to state your specific ideal salary and benefits package. If the employer’s counter does not align with your goal, go for creative maneuvers. If you expect a signing bonus, for example, suggest six equal payments over a period of six months instead of all up front. That may be easier for the employer to handle and thus say yes.
Tip 5: Don’t go for a knockout
In the salary negotiation game, if one side feels like it ceded the field before scoring, the relationship will be shaky before it even gets off the sideline. You want the best deal possible, and so does the employer. Find ways to leave both sides satisfied with the resulting agreement.

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