Job offer too low? How to get the salary you want

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(MoneyWatch) You've done it -- you've snagged an offer for your dream job. The only hitch? The salary isn't what you expected, or what you require. You're their top pick, so you may have a little wiggle room in terms of salary. Here's how to ask for what you think you're worth:

Throw out a long "hmmm..."
If your offer is in person, use the power of a good pause. "Repeat the offer and then blurt out this 4-letter word: 'Hmmm.' Be quiet for a little bit," suggests Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary, How To Make $1000 A Minute. This pregnant pause may prompt them to simply ask why you're hesitating, giving you a natural opening.

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Know your worth
Once you know you're on the shortlist, take some time to research salaries online, on a site like Salary.com and Glassdoor.com. You won't know what to ask for if you don't have the facts. "Knowing your own Ideal, Satisfactory, and 'no go' numbers you confidence to say, 'I appreciate the offer, Mr. Employer, and based on my research, I think we should be looking at a number closer to ______,'" says Chapman.

Summarize your specific successes
In order to persuade a company to give you more money, show them that you'll likely make them more money than other candidates--in other words, that you're a good investment. "Be prepared to show your new employer what you've done in your previous positions to prove the added value you've contributed to other employers. Describe specific, measurable examples (e.g., dollars saved, clients retained, sales generated)," says Collette Ellis, founder of InStep Consulting.

Open big
You want to fight for what you think you're worth -- even if that's considerably higher than what they think you're worth. So open big, says Selena Rezvani, author of the book Pushback: How Smart Women Ask - And Stand Up - For What They Want. "When it comes to bargaining for a better salary, always start with a figure that would delight and thrill you, not simply satisfy you. Don't ever bother giving a range -- too many employers will only hear your low number," says Rezvani.

Use partnership language
You've got them where you want them, says executive coach Stephanie Somanchi: "You've been offered the job, so clearly you are wanted and your skill set valued. This is your first on-the-job collaboration." Use words like "we," to describe the salary offer discrepancy and avoid talking about yourself -- that you need more money for clothes or an apartment, for instance.

Did YOU negotiate the salary you wanted for your current job? If so, how? Please share in the comments section.

  • Amy Levin-Epstein On Twitter»

    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.

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