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November 2012

Don't mention salary!

“Whoever mentions salary first loses!” That's been the advice of salary negotiation experts for years. It's true. What happens if you jump in first? You could lose out on thousands of dollars.

The IDEAL time to discuss salary is after you've received an offer in writing and before you accept. That's when you have the most leverage you'll ever have. That's your window of opportunity to discuss salary, not before.

But how do you handle those questions that can come up in the first telephone interview? First, do your homework and know what you are worth in the marketplace (see below). Then develop your own personal phrase: something you can say with confidence and that sounds like you. Use the collaborative language I proposed in last month's column. Having that statement well prepared and rehearsed can win you those thousands of dollars. For example:

Takeaway message? With a storehouse of collaborative-style phrases for the right situation you'll be ready to stall the salary discussion until after the offer is made. That's when to collaborate for a win-win.

Next month I'll share ideas on handling the salary question on an internet application.

Salary negotiation resources:

Kathleen Martinek, former UNCG Alumni Career Counselor, has more than 15 years experience in career development and corporate management. Email her at



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