Be prepared before negotiating job salary

Contact: Heath Gibson

Getting the best salary for your skills and experience is more than putting the best foot forward, says Hank Flick of Mississippi State University.

"There are some important points job seekers should understand before they enter into salary negotiations," advises the communication professor who teaches negotiation skills. He offers some guidelines for those entering the job market:

Understand the job's level of responsibility. "If the position has a high level of responsibility, the applicant should expect a higher salary," Flick says.

Research salaries in the profession. "Knowing the standard of pay in a particular profession allows applicants to be more realistic in their salary expectations."

Learn the rules of negotiating. Never discuss salary until the job has been offered. "If the interviewer brings up the issue of pay, ask if you are being offered the position. If you are, then you can begin negotiating a salary."

Also, allow the interviewer to first give a range salary. Applicants who start the negotiation run the risk of their figure being too high or low. When a figure is given, the applicant should pause and calculate whether the amount is an hourly, weekly or monthly figure, and if it is fair when compared with the standard in that field.

Separate benefits from salary. "Benefits should be negotiated in the same fashion as salary."

Take time to think. Flick always tells students that, before making the final decision to accept the position, "always ask for time to think about it--even if it is for 10 minutes."