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Use Your Resume To Help Negotiate a Higher Salary

By Deborah Walker

Most job seekers believe that salary negotiation starts once they have an offer in hand, but nothing could be farther from the truth.

Most job seekers believe that salary negotiation starts once they have an offer in hand, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  In fact, your resume can make the difference between negotiating at the top end of the salary range-or the bottom end-in your next job offer.  If that sounds strange to you, consider the following points:

  • A prospective employer's first impression of you is created entirely by your resume.
  • The employer's first impression of you will assign a value and build a level of urgency for the employer to contact you-before someone else does.

First impressions are nearly impossible to change.

If your resume sells your skills short, then you can't expect to receive offers at the upper end of your salary scale.  Your current resume could be losing you thousands of dollars in income power.  By making a few key changes in your resume now, you can position yourself for higher salaries in the future.

There are three resume strategies for promoting high salary negotiation success:

  1. Show that you are a high return on investment with quantifiable results.

Many job seekers throw around the phrase "results oriented", but they fail to back it up with concrete evidence-leaving the reader to conclude otherwise.  You may feel that you have no quantifiable evidence of your value in previous jobs, but every job has quantifiable results that can better reflect your worth on your resume.  Revenue, sales dollars and material costs are not the only results that use numbers. 

Consider using the number of man-hours saved in process improvements, the percentage of repeat customers, or the number of peers helped by a particular efficiency to help reflect your abilities.  Every employee is hired to solve problems, and most problems have some quantifiable element at their core. 

  2. Illustrate the breadth of your experience.

Notice the use of the word "breadth" rather than "length" of experience.  Just because a candidate has been doing a job for a long time does not necessarily mean he is worth more.  Breadth of experience focuses on quality, not quantity. 

There are two key ways to express breadth of experience:

  • Industry knowledge

Since industry expertise is usually in high demand, you can show your value through insider understanding of industry issues.

  •   Transferable skills

If your career spans many industries within the same occupation, highlight the transferable skills that have enabled you to bridge the gaps from industry to industry. 

  3. Entice the reader to want to know more about you.

Job seekers often make the mistake of assuming that the job of their resume is to inform the reader.  Not so!  The ONLY job of your resume is to entice the reader to want to know more about you. 

What that translates to is an understanding of what to include and what to leave off your resume.  Too much detail can distract the reader and lose his interest, but not enough information, and the reader will wonder what you have been doing with your life.  A proper balance between detail and result will win the reader's interest and leave them saying, "I've got to call this guy for an interview today!"

A professional resume writer can create a resume that sells you as a high return on investment.  By portraying you as someone with great breadth of experience and a wide range of critical skills, potential employers will see you immediately as someone of high value, building their vision-and your self-confidence-of you in the upper end of the salary scale. 

About the author: Deborah Walker, CCMC is a Career Coach and Resume Writer. Find more job-search tips and resume samples at: or email:

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