Posted July 17, 2012 by

Negotiating Salary in a Still Tough Job Market

Alexandra Levit of AlexandraLevit.comIn this market, many job candidates are desperate for an offer – any offer. But even if you are new to an industry or have been unemployed for a while, is it smart to blindly accept the first number that an employer throws out? I don’t think so.

Once you are inside an organization, raises are small and promotions are often slow coming, so you have to do what you can to maximize your salary and benefit package right out of the gate. But how can you do this when the employer has the upper hand and hundreds of qualified candidates from which to choose?

Mid-career professionals often think they have to accept a lower salary because their industry or job experience isn’t a perfect fit. But you should recognize that you are far from starting over and should convince potential employers why you deserve a salary closer to mid or senior level than entry level.

This means considering what your years of work experience will add to the organization and what you can do that will bring in more money today. Because functional skills are easy to pick up but problem-solving ability and business acumen are best honed over time, employers often prefer more seasoned candidates.

When applying for a job in a new field, understand what entry level and upper level positions pay by checking sources like and having frank conversations with individuals currently working in the industry. You should not be the first to mention salary in the interview, but if confronted about it directly, you shouldn’t hesitate. Say that you’re looking for compensation in X range and ask about the range for that position.

Once you receive an offer, evaluate it realistically. Be aware that public sector organizations compensate differently than private sector ones, and that you are unlikely to replace your past salary 100 percent in a market where existing employees are being asked to accept cuts.

However, also remember that employers will expect negotiation and are likely to go up from the original number. If you’re not entirely satisfied with the end result, see if you can build a review to revisit compensation at 6 and 18 months of service.

Alexandra Levit is a globally recognized workplace author and speaker. A nationally syndicated columnist, Alexandra has published several books, including They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, How’d You Score That Gig?, Success for Hire, MillennialTweet, New Job, New You, and Blind Spots. Levit has advised the Obama administration, regularly speaks nationwide at conferences, universities, and corporations on workforce issues, and was recently named Money Magazine’s Online Career Expert of the Year and the author of one of Forbes’ Best 2012 Websites for Women.  Learn more about Alexandra’s work at

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Career Advice, Negotiations, Salaries and Compensation | Tagged Tagged