Job hunting? Salary negotiation season is open

Job seekers are gaining leverage in salary discussions, according to staffing firm Robert Half International

Job seekers are gaining leverage in salary discussions, according to new data from Robert Half International.

The staffing firm polled 1,600 chief financial officers and asked if they're more or less willing to negotiate salary with top job candidates than they were 12 months ago. Eleven percent said they're much more willing to negotiate, and 27% said they're somewhat more willing.

At the other end of the spectrum, 1% of respondents said they're much less willing to negotiate and 4% said they're somewhat less willing. More than half (54%) said their willingness to negotiate salaries is unchanged from a year ago.

Along with the survey data, Robert Half also shared seven tips for successful salary negotiations:

  1. Do a reality check. Is the firm in a position to bargain? Find out before attempting any salary negotiation. If you've been offered a job at a newly formed startup, or a company that recently announced layoffs or weak financial results, your leverage may be limited.
  2. Get your figures right. Don't enter negotiations without doing your homework. Research the latest salary trends for your city, industry and job title by reviewing compensation surveys and publications such as Robert Half's 2012 Salary Guides and talking to colleagues and recruiters.
  3. Don't jump the gun. Wait for the hiring manager to bring up salary in the discussion, and make sure you fully understand the requirements of the position before answering questions about your desired pay. Ask prospective employers what they think would be an appropriate range for the position so you can avoid giving a range that is too high or low.
  4. Go for your goal. If offered a salary figure that doesn't meet your expectations, it's OK to request additional compensation. Employers may start at the lower end of their salary range, leaving room to negotiate.
  5. Don't bluff. It's never a good move to mislead a prospective employer about your current compensation or other higher-paying job offers in an effort to get more money. Instead, reiterate the value you can bring to the firm, and be honest about your desired salary.
  6. Think beyond the paycheck. Be sure to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer. A generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company may compensate for a lower starting salary, for example.
  7. End on a high note. If negotiations aren't successful and you decide to walk away from an offer, remember to do so gracefully. You never know when you might cross paths with the hiring manager again.

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