Negotiate Like a Pro – Part II

By Clyde C. Lowstuter

Be Realistic in Your Salary Demands

Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources person asked a young engineer fresh out of MIT, “And what starting salary were you considering?”

The 21-year old engineer enthusiastically replied, “In the neighborhood of $165,000 a year and an attractive housing allowance, plus a comprehensive benefits package.”

The interviewer said, “Well, in addition to those demands, what would you say to a five-week vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of your salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?”

The young engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?”

The HR interviewer countered, “Yes, but you started it.”


Truer words have never been spoken.  You don’t get paid based on an organization’s need, your education, your experience, your capabilities, your charm or charisma – you get paid what you negotiate.  That’s unfair, you cry.  So what if you deem it to be unfair.  Tiger Woods does not have one of the most lucrative endorsement contracts among his contemporaries because he is the most deserving golfer or the nicest person.  He is paid this king’s ransom because he (and his agent) negotiated it. You may feel that your MBA from an Ivy League University entitles you to a sweeter deal.  However, you need to powerfully demonstrate how you’re worth more and effectively negotiate for it.   And, like our young friend fresh out of MIT, you also need to be realistic in your salary demands.

CompetitionLong gone are the days in which you could merely show up with your credentials and track record of responsibilities in hand and get the big bucks.  The competition is tough and the line is long of equally qualified executives vying for the same job you are.  My favorite, yet most obnoxious question is, “So, What?”  So, what have you accomplished or created or managed that has a positive P&L impact?  Regaling search professionals with your activities might be fascinating, but employers are looking for people who have a record of quantifiable results that demonstrate how they directly contributed to the growth and profitability of their organization.

Simply put:  If you don’t sell yourself, why would anyone hire you?   

Excerpted with permission from the author, Clyde C. Lowstuter – Chapter 21 – In Search of the Perfect Job:  8 Steps to the $250,000+ Executive Job That’s Right for You


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