Let's Talk About Earning Potential

SAN MATEO (04/03/2000) - Reaching the salary-negotiation stage of the interview process means you have one big hurdle left. Here are some tips for successfully negotiating your compensation package.

You've just impressed the interviewer with your education, experience, wit, and charm. Think you have completed the hardest part? Think again. Lee Miller, a Harvard-educated lawyer who lectures at Seton Hall University and is a consultant at Advanced Human Resources Group, in New York, offers guidance on preparing for the most nerve-racking part of the interview process: the compensation negotiation. Miller says that employment is an ongoing relationship between you and the company. How you handle the negotiations will set the tone for your future with that company.

1. Preparation is key

Miller's first tip is to be prepared. "The more information you have about your market value and the prospective employer, the greater your likelihood of success," he says. The Internet has made researching much easier. Once you have the data, determine where you fit within that range.

2. Those who speak last ...

Don't name your price when asked. Let the organization make the offer. "Use uncertainty to your advantage," Miller says. "The more information you convey to a potential employer about your bottom line, the more likely it will limit what you get."

3. IPO, anyone?

Internet start-ups may offer more perks or stock options -- and lower base salaries. "Understand your needs and those of the employer," Miller says. "A start-up company may not be able to offer market salary, but will typically offer stock options." You should also look at the entire compensation package to determine its total worth.

4. Pursue a policy of truth

It is tempting to fib to make your current salary seem higher than it is. When negotiating for a new position, Miller says that dishonesty is a mistake because you will probably get caught. "Once you are [caught], even if you do not lose the offer, you'll be at a tremendous disadvantage, and your credibility will always be suspect," Miller says.

5. Quit while you're ahead

Most companies are making what they think is a reasonable offer. At this point, you need to decide if it is good enough to start with. "There comes a point in every negotiation when you have achieved everything you could have reasonably expected to gain," Miller says. Appearing greedy will harm your career and damage your relationship with the company.

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