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Negotiate Salary in a Seller's Market

Job seekers are frustrated, and who can blame them? In this economy, it's not uncommon for educated yet unemployed adults to spend weeks in grueling job interviews, only to be offered the measly sum of $17 per hour. No benefits. Take it or leave it. In a bad business economy, it's a seller's market.

In the article "Why Won't Employers Offer Me A Fair Salary?," Evil HR Lady at CBS Moneywatch does a nice job of explaining some reasons why employers get away with this with impunity. When jobs are scarce, and people are lining up to interview, it starts to look like a bidding war. If one qualified applicant will take the job at $20 per hour but no lower, and another qualified applicant is willing and ready to take the job at $15, the employer will most likely hire the guy at $15.

It is also true that many businesses are having a hard time getting by, and might not be able to offer big salaries to new hires. And let's not forget that it is easier to get a job when you already have a job. Ironic, no? It's feast and famine; applicants appear more desirable when they are already working, which translates into "I'd rather hire somebody if it means my competitor loses him."

An unemployed adult with bills to pay and children to feed finds herself in a Catch-22 situation.

How to Negotiate Salary

Evil HR Lady's letter writer operated from the perspective of "I need the money. They need to offer me the money." That won't get her anywhere.

A job applicant who can't (or won't) accept a lower offer needs to have an arsenal of reasons why they are valuable. For example:

- Don't say "I'm educated, see my degree." Talk about what you did in school and how it prepared you for the job.

- Do talk about your past job experiences in the past. Talk about what you did well, and the success of your projects.

- Do talk about how you will make your employer more money. Present how you will improve their business or generate sales. Present yourself as an asset, not a liability, and be worth the salary you are asking for.

Sometimes, however, it is best to take an offer and keep looking for the perfect job. Being employed might help you find a better position. And if that doesn't work, you might be able to negotiate better pay after proving yourself on the job.

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(Photo Credit: borman818/Flickr)

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