Are Salary Negotiations Still Alive in Today's Economy?

Do recruiters seem especially happy these days? They should,
given the fact that they have access to an incredibly rich pool of candidates
as more talented, highly qualified people are looking for jobs than ever
before. As a result, fewer job seekers are negotiating the terms of their job

"Assessing the candidate pool as a whole, people are more
ready to accept a job at first offer than just 12 to 16 months ago," said Bob
DeFrank, senior director of corporate staffing and diversity for A&E Television

So what should you do if you obtain an offer, but the salary
is less than you had hoped for? Is it okay to negotiate? According to many
human resources professionals, the answer is yes. Surprised? Don't be.  Just know that there is a caveat: not everyone is poised to negotiate. 

DeFrank explains that one critical factor will help you
determine whether or not you should ask the employer for more than the initial
offer provides, "Talent is a great equalizer. Candidates who bring value to the
table are still actively and successfully negotiating the terms of their

And companies are open to it. Why? It all boils down to the
simple fact that our industry values human capital as a powerful competitive
advantage, and no one wants to lose top talent to their competitors. As a
result, savvy employers recognize that despite the recession, it is in their
best interest to be competitive when it comes to compensation. 

"Marketplace conditions have given companies an ideal
climate for attracting true leaders within a field-be it engineering, sales,
operations, on screen personalities, finance, etc. That opportunity doesn't
come along very often, so employers are willing to negotiate the terms of a job
offer in order to get the best of the best on board," observed DeFrank.  "It's simply a matter of
intelligent investment that pays off."

So, if you are a high quality candidate with a proven track
record or skills set that is hard to come by, don't be intimidated by the
recession. You are well positioned to negotiate the terms you want by branding yourself
as a hot commodity. The key is knowing your value in the marketplace and being
able to articulate it to the potential employer.

"Just as every business must research the fair market value
for their product, candidates should assess their value in today's job market,"
said Parthavi Das, WICT senior vice president of strategy and initiatives.
"Through research and networking, an applicant can uncover the priorities and
challenges facing a company to best position the unique skills or experiences
that sets them apart. Understanding how your bilingual and bicultural skills or
your experience interning in an urban shelter aligns with a company's
priorities, for instance, will help you prepare to negotiate an equitable

Your research will help you establish a realistic range for
your earning power.  It will also act as
a safety net that prevents you from requesting more than is reasonable or less
than you actually deserve. Fortunately, there are several resources available
to help you evaluate average earnings including Salaries, Salary,
PayScale, and Salary Search.  If the job you've been offered exists in
other industries, research salaries within those sectors as well.  Quite simply, the more educated you are about
your market value, the more confident you'll be at the bargaining table, which
will increase the likelihood of obtaining the salary you want.

A last bit of advice: When negotiating, don't forget to look
at the big picture. Salary is only one of many terms you can negotiate.
Consider asking for soft benefits that you value such as a flexible work
schedule, paid time off, telecommuting and perks. If you've got talent,
leverage it...for all it's worth!