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Salary Negotiation Tips: Quantify Value to Get the Best Offer

If I know a position pays significantly less than my desired salary, should I interview anyway with the hope they'll increase the salary base?

By Jack Chapman

Editor's note: Salary expert Jack Chapman and TheLadders want to help you negotiate the best deal you can. You can e-mail us your salary negotiation questions or situations or use #salaryQ to submit them via Twitter. Due to the volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond to all questions submitted.

Q: If I know a position pays significantly less than my desired salary, should I interview anyway with the hope they'll increase the salary base?

A: Do it with more than just “hope.” If you’re hoping for $50k for a $40k job, don’t waste your time or theirs. Be smart about your job search: find a way to monetize your contribution to a company, such as showing how your goal of 10% savings in purchasing can be worth $100k savings per year.

For example, I had a client who worked for a soup company. The line people in the plant were putting in an extra ounce of broth in jars. Why? If a one-pound jar was sold and there was not one pound of broth, then the FDA could fine them thousands of dollars. So for good measure, they put a little extra in. They didn’t trust the old scales.

My client told his employer he could replace them with digital scales, which were more accurate, and they wouldn’t need an extra ounce of soup — a practice he calculated was costing the company $150k per year. He could then go to a prospective employer and say, “Why don’t we set up a bonus system? Because I think I could save you $150k right off the bat from what I’ve seen by walking around here. Could we entertain an above average salary for above average work?”

Go ahead and interview if you think you convey how much extra you’re worth and why you’re worth it, in which case you could potentially be offered a lot more money.

Next week's question: What is the best way to continue negotiating from an existing offer if it does not quite meet my minimum requirements?

You can find more salary negotiation articles from Jack Chapman here on TheLadders, or by visiting him on the Web at www.SalaryNegotiations.com

Jack Chapman's book, "Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute," has been used by over 150,000 individuals to increase their salary. Find info and strategies to boost your salary online

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