Negotiating a better package: One man's story

Career Coach Susan Bishop, left, reviews a job seeker's resume and interview skills during a job fair on June 11, 2013, at the Washington, DC, Convention Center. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

(MoneyWatch) One of the most stressful part of the job interview process might not be wowing your potential future employer. For some candidates, the salary negotiation stage is even more confusing and anxiety-producing than questions like "What's your greatest weakness?"

The first step is figuring out what they can pay by doing your research on and offline.It's also important to avoid sharing your previous salary, if possible (which is different than telling them how much you believe you're worth). If you have an initial offer and believe they can pay you more, ask them to meet you halfway. There are a few ways to do this effectively, which include using partnering language, getting comfortable with mildly awkward pauses and summarizing your successes to remind the person why she should hire you over others.

The company may decide that you're worth bending the budget. But sometimes you'll realize that your efforts are trumped by a company's financial concerns. If they can't bump their budget, they may still be able to offer you other things.

A great example comes from New York-based entrepreneur Alex Gedaninik, who founded the tech company Problemio.com. In order to fund his new venture, he took a technology consulting position at G33K, a software company, but had to come to grips with the organization's strict salary cap. "They offered a small salary ($50,000) and I am typically compensated at [twice that]," recalls Gedaninik. When he saw that they couldn't meet him halfway, Gedaninik requested something that would dramatically improve his quality of life (both personally and professionally) but would cost the company nothing. "I asked to have a four-day workweek, in addition to being able to choose my task, because many of the tasks of this job overlapped with my business. So essentially I ended up working four days a week with some of that time still devoted to my business."

While Gedaninik would prefer a higher salary, he's able to work while building his own start-up. What would you ask for if a company couldn't pay you what you thought you were worth? More time off? A flexible schedule? Please sign in and share in the comments section below.

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    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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