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June 2010
Negotiating Compensation in this Adverse Economy
by Susan Reynold

You’ve fought your way past legions of competitors to get an offer:  and now it’s time to get an offer!

Let’s back up a bit.  When it’s time to negotiate, you will be best served if you’ve done your homework ahead of time.  Winging it should not be your choice of strategies!  You simply MUST have a clear idea of the value of your skills to the type of organization you’re joining.  As always, start with a careful inventory of the qualifications, skills, and abilities that you’ll be contributing. 

Next conjecture as closely as possible about the number of employees and overall revenue of the organization.  Are they a leader in their industry?  How “healthy” is their industry overall?  What is the size of budget and / or revenue forecast for which you’ll be personally responsible?  How many employees will report to you?  What are the particular challenges they’re facing, for which you are part of the solution?  Then research other such organizations and positions in the overall marketplace.

You should now have a reasonable idea as to why you are an extremely good fit.  Chances are, these very conversations have been part of your interviewing strategy!  Consider proactively asking if they’ve put a budget in place for the position.  Offer to share the research you’ve done about comparable organizations and positions.  Sometimes you’ll receive a higher initial offer, because you’ve been able to illustrate where they would fall in being fair and competitive with other organizations.  Try, if at all possible, to conduct your negotiation which a functional decision-maker, such as the person to whom you would actually report.  This individual should be most “invested” in having chosen you and also most likely to understand and appreciate the potential you bring to their group.  In other words, you’re worth the most money to them AND they best know the department’s challenges!

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at Newmarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search and career strategy firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers.  She can be reached at or

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Job Search Success: Delusion or Determination?

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