What If I’m Confused About My Compensation Requirements During Salary Negotiations?

Be prepared for your discussions with your new employer. Even though most executive salary negotiations, especially those with six-figure jobs and up benefit from or actually need coaching help, it is still important for you to think out your situation and prepare for salary discussions. At least, you need to bring three numbers into a final job interview:

- Ideal

- Satisfactory

- No-Go

These “name” your salary and frame your negotiation. Your employer probably has his/her own three numbers as well. Good negotiations will find the common ground between you. Excellent negotiations on your part will be at the highest possible point of that common ground.

Let’s say you’re a convention coordinator, and in your present job you’re underpaid at $45,000. And let’s say you’d be ecstatic at $70,000 – a number bigger than you think you’d ever get, but it’s not a complete fantasy – it passes the “laugh test.”

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s no point in moving jobs for less than, say, $50,000. We’ve named the Ideal (top) and the No-go (bottom) numbers. This is my Ninth Commandment of Salary Negotiations: Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of Thy Salary in Vain.

Now let’s look at the employer’s point of view. She is pulling her hair out with the complaints she’s getting with her current coordinator. She’s in danger of losing an entire $150,000 account if she doesn’t get someone [like you] who’s good with attention to detail. She knows that the average salary for a coordinator is $40,000 for a plodder, up to $55,000 for a self-starter. The top of her range is $60,000.

Your common ground, then, is $50,000 – $60,000. That’s $50K for your lowest, and $60K for her highest. Neither of you know that common ground when you start negotiating. All you know is your own range.

There’s a whole negotiating dance that takes place to come to some agreement. The part of that dance I want to emphasize in this commandment is your clarity. Before you begin serious money talk, your top, bottom, and mid-ground numbers need to be thought out. If they are fuzzy, your negotiations will be fuzzy. If you’re not clear that $50,000 is as low as you’ll go, you might waffle. In the heat of the interview, experiencing great rapport, imagining friendly coworkers (not the grouches you work with now) you will be tempted to say, “OK. I’ll start there and work up.”

No! Do not take the name of your salary in vain! “I’m sorry, Ms. Employer. I would love to work here. I feel a great connection. I love your accounts, but somehow we have to reach a minimum of $50,000 and preferably $55. Let’s put our heads together and find a way, shall we?”