Don't Leave Money on the Table

Don't Leave Money on the Table

By John Klymshyn, for Yahoo! HotJobs 

"Leaving money on the table" is a euphemism for losing a key point in a negotiation. But it's also a literal pitfall you must avoid in order to get the best possible salary.

In a job-offer setting, we often tend to be weak negotiators, because we feel pressure when negotiating on our own behalf. This leads to leaving money on the table.

Salary discussions are just that -- a negotiation. You should always take the fact that the employer wants to discuss salary as encouragement to negotiate with confidence.

Every business wants to get the best services for the lowest price. Look at the negotiation process as if you are a vendor, providing services that the hiring company needs in order to be successful. Your service has value. And people who understand the value of their service (as well as the keys to negotiation) rarely leave money on the table.

There are simple steps you can take to get the best advantage during a salary negotiation.

Use a Follow-Up Question

When quoting your salary requirement, follow your number with an open-ended question. This engages the person you are speaking with, and it makes them think, and then respond.

Example: "I'm interested in the opportunity here, and my minimum salary requirement is $X. How does that compare to the range you are offering?" The second part of this statement is harder than the first, but wow is it powerful!

Practice delivering this statement and question. Practice does not make perfect -- practice makes prepared, and you must be prepared for this crucial part of your interview process.

Finesse the Discussion

Ask questions to prompt the company representative to quote you a number before you tell them what you want -- even if it is limited to a range as opposed to a specific number.

Some examples might be: "What is the high level of the salary range for this position?" or "What can someone in this position expect to make in their first year?" When asking about the high end, you often get the low and high number. This also shows desire to grow, even if you are not qualified today for the high end of the range.

Always know what you are willing to turn down. If the offer is for less than what you require, end the interview professionally, politely and quickly. ("Well, I appreciate your time, but that does not sound like something that will work. What should we do next?")

If the offer is close to what you hoped, pause and say, "Hmmm." This makes them think that you must consider it. It also allows you time to absorb what they have said. Many people have told me that this simple pause has prompted the other person to raise the number.

Nobody wants to leave money on the table, but it happens too often because job applicants don't prepare some negotiation essentials. Sell your service to a great employer for fair market value. You will be valued, you will be happy with your paycheck, and both sides win.

[Copyright © 2007 J. Klymshyn - John Klymshyn offers career, sales and management coaching and training through his Valencia, California-based company, The Business Generator.]