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Tips for negotiating a higher salary

If you're searching for a new opportunity or trying to sweeten the deal at your current job, an expert offers has seven tips for improving your situation.

MINNEAPOLIS — More and more employers are getting back to work after the pandemic, and there are more job openings than ever before. 

The U.S. Labor Department reports available positions rose to record high 9.2 million by the end of May.

Whether you're after a new gig or just want better pay or benefits at your current one, we spoke to an expert to get seven solid tips for negotiating a salary.

Jeff Cochran of the Shapiro Negotiations Institute said if you're starting from scratch with a new employer, the first thing you need to consider is who you're trying to influence, and come up with a script for how you'll handle the conversation. 

"So we go in there and we think that we can wrap our voice around $65,000 annually. But, when it comes to time say it, there's a hesitation," said Cochran. "By scripting it out, we can avoid some common mistakes, which might be to give a range. Somewhere between 60 and 70 [thousand], hoping for 65, the mid point. Well, the other side immediately says, 'How about 60?'"

Cochran also recommends doing your research. What will your employer's concerns be, and what arguments will you use to counter them? 

"Most people tend to overestimate their weaknesses, and underestimate their strengths. By making a list and being prepared, and sharing it with a friend and being objective, you can go in with as much confidence as you possibly can muster," Cochran said. 

He offers these seven tips to make the most of your conversation: 

1. Consider who you are trying to influence. Will you be negotiating with Human Resources, or with your boss directly? If you have to go through your company's HR department, consider talking with your boss first. They may be able to help you in your negotiation, or at least strengthen your arguments for why you should receive a bigger salary.

2. Script your argument ahead of time. Negotiation conversations are often tied up with your emotions, especially when you’re arguing for something in your favor. But being emotional may make or break the decision. By scripting out your responses ahead of time, you’ll can avoid any rash decisions or responses.

3. Understand the big picture and other sides. Consider what your employer will say when you're writing out your script. Try to think ahead what your employer's concerns could be.

4. Show up on time for the meeting. The easiest way to start an interview on the wrong foot is by showing late. Test your Skype, Zoom or other platform ahead of time if you're meeting virtually. If you run into issues prior to the interview, make sure to let everyone involved know.

5. Build rapport. Small talk is so important. It greases the wheels of communication and sets up chemistry. Smile, keep an open posture, ask questions, show genuine interest, don’t interrupt and try to mirror phrases and mannerisms. 

6. Showcase your credibility. Anytime you’re negotiating, especially for additional benefits or pay, it is important to showcase your knowledge, skills, credibility, and why you are deserving of what you’re asking for. Talk about your achievements over the past year, or borrow some examples from references or testimonials.

7. Negotiate more than just one item at a time. Say more money is your end goal. Can you negotiate for transportation costs to be covered instead? Or perhaps extra PTO days. Negotiating over only one aspect can quickly turn into a zero-sum game, so leave yourself open to other options from your employer.