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Now that I'm on the other side of the table, how should I negotiate?

A reader accustomed to negotiating on behalf of the employer gets a taste of what it feels like on the other side of the table.

Q. I just earned a bachelor's degree in human resources management and I have three years of experience. Based on's results, if I am a qualified applicant I should be getting a median income in the mid-40s per year. During interviews, when asked, "What is your salary requirement?" I don't know what to say. Based on my experience as a recruiter, I hated when I asked the same question and didn't get a concrete response. I was taught to start low and work my way up with the salary until the other person "gives in." What's the best way to answer this question?

A. I'm not a believer in wasting one's time haggling over salary. After all, we're not buying a used car. Now as a recruiter, you know what the median means. In order to make the median salary, you have to be proficiently skilled to perform the overall tasks of the job. But before you state what kind of salary you are looking for, why don't you ask the recruiter how much they would pay someone who is fully proficient in the job you're interviewing for?

Of course, you should try not to be the first party to say a number. But if the company does not disclose the salary, then tell what you expect to be paid. If it's $40,000, then say so. Focus on your overall total cash compensation, rather than on base pay. For instance, find out if you're eligible for an incentive plan or if you receive a sign-on bonus.

In other words, go into the negotiation process with realistic expectations, but at the same time get to the point.

Good luck.

- Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional

Copyright 2000-2004 ©, Inc.

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