By Liz Ryan, Forbes Contributor
You can negotiate a job offer, and I hope you do. The negotiation doesn’t start when you get the job offer, though – it starts much earlier, when you first bring up the salary topic during the interview process.
You’ve got to have a salary target in mind when you start a job search. That means you’ve got to know what you’re worth on the talent market, not in a general way but specifically based on your background and your geography. Use Payscale, Salary and Glassdoor to gauge your going rate on the talent market. All three sites are free, but you’ll have to fill in a bunch of fields with personal data to get the personalized salary G2 you need.
In a job search, you’ve got to price yourself like a house. Imagine going to look at a house for sale — you like the house, but there’s no asking price. The owner is puttering in the garden when you visit, and you ask her, “What do you want for the house?”
She says “Make me an offer.” You’re going to make a lowball offer, of course – who wouldn’t?
The homeowner hasn’t given you any guidance, so naturally you’re going to shoot low and only up the offer as you go.
A job search works the same way. If you don’t tell your next boss what you think your talents are worth, s/he’s going to offer you something on the low end of the organization’s scale. That isn’t tacky or evil. If you have a salary target in mind, and I fervently hope you do, put it out there early in the process.
So far, so good, Liz, but when do I share that salary target?
Get through the first face-to-face interview (assuming it doesn’t require long-distance travel) before you broach the salary topic. There’s no sense in bringing up dollars and cents if you aren’t interested in the job or if the hiring manager and/or HR screening folks aren’t interested in you.
When somebody calls or writes to invite you for a second interview, that’s the moment to share your target range. Why should you go back for a second interview if the company isn’t able or willing to pay you what you need?
Here’s how to bring up the salary question on the phone: