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Bureau of Labor Statistics

Do’s and don’ts for successfully negotiating your salary

You wrote a killer resume. The interview process went off without a hitch. You can feel it: A job offer is coming your way. This is great news, but before you start planning your new commute, there are some final steps to getting the job that you're going to want to focus on—and they all involve salary.

Negotiating your salary offer can be stressful, and you may be worried about turning off the employer by an unknowingly unreasonable salary requirement. Here's what you need to do—and don't need to—when negotiating your salary.

DO research beforehand
You may have a number in your head that you'd like to make, but basing your ideal paycheck on hard facts, such as industry standards, company billings and the availability of quality candidates for that role will get you further in negotiation talks. Cheryl E. Palmer, certified career coach and owner of Call to Career, says, "Employers generally have a range in mind for what they intend to pay a new hire. Job seekers need to do their salary research […] so that they go into the negotiation process knowing what the market will bear."

Begin your research process by accessing resources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook or CareerBuilder Salary Calculator. You'll learn about salary trends, certifications that can get you higher earning power and how competitive positions are in the current market.

DON'T be the first to bring up salary talks
"Whoever mentions salary first loses," Palmer says. "Generally speaking, once one side—either the job seeker or the employer—mentions a dollar figure, the other side is in a stronger position to negotiate. So if the employer asks you what you are looking for, it's best to say, 'Could you tell me what the salary range is for this position?' If you immediately volunteer a dollar amount, the salary discussion will be based on that amount. The converse is also true. If the company representative states a dollar amount first, the salary negotiation process will start from there. Thus, it is your best interest to avoid mentioning a dollar amount first if at all possible."

DO offer a salary range
If you're pressed for a salary requirement, you still have options for negotiating your salary without losing the upper hand. "Don't lock yourself in to a specific dollar amount," Palmer says. Instead, she recommends giving a range that you're open to. "That still leaves you room for negotiation. There is not a lot of wiggle room with a specific dollar amount."

DON'T accept the first offer
If you've managed to persuade the company to offer the first salary figure, remember that it's just that: the first offer. "Usually the first offer is not the company's best offer," Palmer says. "It is generally expected that you will try to negotiate even though the competition for jobs is stiff. You may not be able to negotiate the same salary that you could before the economic downturn, but it is still worth it to negotiate. You don't want to feel taken advantage of after you start your new job."

DO make a strong case
Not all negotiation talks will go smoothly, but that's no reason to be deterred from getting money that's on the table—in any form. "If you are lowballed, negotiate based on how well your qualifications match the requirements of the position," Palmer says. "An employer will not be impressed if you try to negotiate based on what you made previously. The current job market is filled with qualified candidates. However, you are in a strong position to negotiate a higher salary if you are pretty much a perfect match for the position. The best thing to do is to reiterate what the position requires and restate the fact that you have exactly what they are looking for. Then you can say, 'My salary research shows that the going rate for someone with my qualifications and experience is between $X and $Y.' This makes your request for a higher salary objective instead of subjective."

DON'T forget to investigate other benefits or perks
If you're not able to get what you want from a monetary perspective, you may still have a few tricks left up your sleeve for negotiating a better employment package. Palmer says, "Health insurance and paid leave are worth money too, and they shouldn't be taken lightly. These can be negotiable. For example, if you already have health insurance through your spouse, you could try to negotiate a higher salary level since the employer will not be paying your premiums. You could also try to negotiate more paid leave, especially if you plan to use that extra vacation time to do consulting work to boost your income."

Though salary talks can be nerve-wracking, it's a crucial final step to securing the job and ensuring that you're fairly compensated for your work. And that's a final step you definitely want to take.

For more information, check out the video below and the accompanying article.


Rethinking retirement? Strategies for staying in the game and in demand

In our new economy, many employees are rethinking retirement due to limited raises, drops in healthcare coverage, and wavering pensions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate of workers 55 and up will continue to grow reaching 43 percent by 2018 and 22 percent for those 65 and over.

Additionally, The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College follows continued trends of older workers staying employed or re-entering the workforce even after retirement. Is it all financially driven? Not necessarily. For many, now that we’re living longer, we simply want to contribute longer. So for those rethinking retirement, consider the following strategies to stay in the game and in demand.

Polish your skills
It’s a slippery slope from fear to failure, so don’t let your discomfort with new technology send you packing. Social media, smart phones and Skype are here to stay, so time has come to get “techy.” In fact, learning something new is the best way to keep the brain sharp and honed for increased functioning. But with the trend for strategic cutbacks, don’t always rely on your employer to provide skill-based training. Take the initiative by attending seminars, workshops, conferences or by investing off the job time to polish your skill set through continued education. AARP Worksearch Foundation provides resources for people over 50 and older looking for work and for additional skill development training.

Embrace a multi-generational workforce
What a better way to stay current on technological trends then to buddy with the generation born online. Making an effort to understand and embrace younger generations is not only a great way to learn from their expertise but to demonstrate you’re a team player. Trainings abound on navigating generational distinctions in an effort to help professionals collaborate effectively. Be willing to considering new approaches and priorities from younger counterparts and recognize that seniority doesn’t always equal superiority. When in doubt about lingo or logistics don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, they’re just as curious about you.

Take advantage of resources
Staying healthy and well-informed is that much easier when you take advantage of organizational resources. Most companies offer benefits including heath tests, wellness coaching, financial planning and fitness classes are free or low cost. Get up and actively pursue these perks while you’re working and beyond by taking steps now to establish a strategy for retirement. For instance, many of my clients on the exit track work with me to develop a retirement plan that includes a benefits analysis, wellness plan and an encore career development strategy. I highly recommend any employee over the age of 50 to start working on all of these facets and routinely tweak them as you get closer to leaving. The transition to a new job, retirement or even an encore career is easier and less daunting when you’re healthy and fit and have a plan for your future in place.

Stay engaged
Avoid mentally checking out by staying in the game and you’ll see the mutually beneficial rewards of making a contribution. Mentoring younger co-workers is a great way to give and gain as older workers Savvy organizations that recognize that a lack of certain skills in younger workers can be found in their older counterparts and encourage this cross-generational imparting of wisdom. Additional ways to stay engaged might include spearheading “bucket list” projects that sometimes take flight easier when you’re affiliated with a company. Key-note speaking, formulating philanthropic partnerships, starting a foundation or even leading formalized training programs are embraced and sponsored by organizations. But probably the best way to stay engaged is to interact with others by joining groups or attending work-sponsored activities. Yes, who you know and who knows you helps keep you in demand, but more importantly having a continual sense of community is imperative for optimal well-being.

Kim Monaghan, PCC is a career coach, syndicated career columnist, resume writer and personal branding strategist who helps her clients cultivate career happiness www.KBMCoaching.com.