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How to score a higher starting salary

Use negotiation leverage to your advantage

by Pat Katepoo  |  2575 views  |  1 comment  |      Rate this now! 

One way to raise your pay is to switch to a new employer to fill the same or similar job you're doing now. Depending on the circumstances, you can negotiate a substantial salary increase. Here's an instructive example.

Debbie is a Long Term Care (LTC) dietitian who wrote to tell me of her negotiating success. She reported negotiating an $11,000 increase in salary when she went from being an employee of a contracted company which served a LTC facility to working for the facility itself. (The contract was cancelled and the company cleared Debbie to be hired directly by the LTC facility.)

Whether Debbie was woefully or adequately paid by her former employer, we can safely surmise that an $11,000 salary increase when joining her new employer reflects an impressive double-digit percentage hike in her pay!

Let's assume the additional $11K brought Debbie solidly above the fair market value average for a LTC dietitian in her area.

How did she pull it off? I have no specifics beyond the email that she sent me, but she included this clue: "...the administrator wanted me to stay."

This gave Debbie situational advantage, also known negotiation leverage. My guess is that the administrator was simply willing to pay what Debbie wanted to keep her at the facility.

Debbie apparently set an ambitious target figure within a well-researched market value salary range. Combine that with her situational advantage, and she was able to secure a hefty hike in salary.

As the economy rebounds to a point where companies ramp up recruitment with competitive salaries, you may start looking for a new employer. Do the research on the fair market value of your position given your experience, geographic location, etc., and set an ambitious target based on the salary range you uncover. Assess and explore ways to increase your negotiation leverage before engaging the other party in discussion.

Changing jobs is the best way to significantly increase your salary; a negotiated offer with a new employer should be higher than any annual raise you might get with a current employer. To score a higher starting salary, keep your negotiation leverage in mind as you plan for your next job in better times ahead.

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