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Many people find the negotiation process uncomfortable, even awkward. However, no matter how uncomfortable you are, you cannot afford to let the issue pass.

Whether you negotiate for your salary or not will determine what you disposable income is: how fast you be able to repay your house, whether you will be able to take your family on that much needed vacation, and whether you will be able to remodel your kitchen. What is at stake is money in the bank for you to spend as you see fit.

Once you have decided to negotiate for your salary with your new employer, you need to do the following:

1.Find out the salary range suitable for your qualification and experience.

Salary information is not easy to find. However, you can still find out how much you should be earning by doing a comparison of what offers are available. Here are a few sources:

a) People who have the same qualification and work experience

You need not ask them how much they make. Instead, give them a range you think is just right and ask them if it sounds acceptable to them. They’ll either ask for details of the company who made that offer, or they will tell you that it’s a bit low.

b) Professional Association

Do you belong to an association or union, which constantly monitors the salary scales offered to its members? If so, you should find out what the acceptable rates are for someone with your qualifications and experience.

c) Trade magazines

Is there a magazine published specifically for people in your trade? Do they regularly publish articles on salaries? Also look at positions advertised in the trade magazines to get a general feel of what companies offer.

2.Determine what is being negotiated

Cash is not the only offer on the table. Working flexi hours, benefits, childcare in the work place and many other issues relating to your work conditions may be part of the negotiation process. Make a list of what you wish to receive (be reasonable) before you enter the negotiation process.

3.Understand the company

You need to understand how the company functions and what their philosophy is towards making a job offer. There are two types:

a) The offer is the only offer

The company like this believes that they are being competitive and that they are offering you a fair wage. They may not be willing to negotiate and will hire the person who agrees with them about this assessment. Should you believe that you are worth more, it’s better not to accept their offer, and move on to another company.

b) The offer is negotiable

Some companies are willing to negotiate. However, you will find that such companies generally have a salary range in mind, and they are willing to find the happy medium between what they are willing to offer and what you’d like to receive.

4. Your Approach

Decide what your standpoint it and then work from there. If a company makes you an offer for a salary and work conditions you find acceptable, then say ‘Yes’. But if the offer is below your expectations, then ask ’ is there room for flexibility?’ Take into account that:

a. Salaries for the same job differ from region to region, city to city.

b. Salaries scales are affected by the size of the company.

c. When a salary range is given, you and your employer will need to determine where you should fit in the range (low, medium, top of the range?)


5.Your Salary History
Some employers may ask for a salary history in order to determine what your salary should be.

Advantages
a) You prospective employer will get a clear picture of what you earned before and understand that you expect to get more.
b) You weed out those companies whose salary ranges are well below your expectations, if they are not willing to adjust.

Disadvantages
1. You may be rejected because you may seem to be more expensive than they can afford.
2. You may be rejected because you are too cheap, and thus, they fear that you may not be able to deliver.
3. They may want you because know that they will save money (because you are cheap). So you will get less than they were initially prepared to pay.

If you do not provide salary history:
a. Some employers will reject you because they prefer to hire someone whose salary information they know.
b. Some employers will phone or schedule meeting with you to find out if your expectations are in line with theirs. If that is the case, whoopee! The negotiation process has begun.

6.The negotiation process
You should do your best to ensure that the negotiation process is smooth. How well the process goes is determined by how you and your prospective employer approach the issue. This is your opportunity to state your needs and create a happy and productive work environment for yourself. Remember that you and your prospective employer are not adversaries: he needs someone with your qualification and work experience, while you want the position. Also, don’t let this opportunity to state your needs pass; should you accept an offer which is well below your expectations, you will be resentful and angry, and this will mar what should have been a great step forward in your career development.

a) Make certain they know how excited you feel about the new job.

Do you remember that wonderful feeling you experienced when you were informed that the company would like to make you an offer? Communicate it to them. No, I don’t think it will make you sound too eager. It will, however, assure them that you are all working for the same team, and that this negotiation process is only the final step. Think of it as a prenuptial agreement (you have already accepted his proposal, he knows you love him, you are wearing his ring, and the agreement is the final step before you become husband and wife.)

b) Find out whether the offer is negotiable
Make certain that you know all the ramifications of the offer before zeroing in on some issue - salary, working hours, stock options, medical insurance etc - that you believe is substandard. Besides defusing the stress, your questions about other aspects of the company's offer will give you a clear picture of what other non-cash benefits there are, and how they impact on the final offer.

Your greatest opportunity to influence your offer comes after everything else has been put aside and you are down to those remaining areas that could be negotiable.

Ask if there is flexibility on item X. Listen to the answer closely, because this is the answer, which will determine whether you are on the same wavelength.

c) Ask about the areas of your concern.
You may be asked what your concern is regarding their offer. State how the current offer will impact on your life. Do it in a way that doesn’t divulge your personal business or back you into a corner.

d) Offer flexibility on some of the things you want
Don’t be too hardnosed about what you want. Your salary negotiation is taking place within the context of a developing relationship between you and your new employer.

Should you accept the offer, you will interact with the person on the other side of the desk on a regular basis. Make sure that the negotiation process has a win-win outcome.