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Even before you start landing interviews, think about salary requirements, benefits, and whether or not you're willing to travel and/or relocate.

Researching salary

Sometimes employers will ask for your salary requirements before bringing you in for an interview—and sometimes they'll ask during the interview itself. This is why it's important to be prepared.

If you aren't sure what a fair salary looks like in your field, do a little research. And while you're doing this research, keep in mind that pay scales will vary from city to city (and definitely from country to country, if you are searching internationally). So, as much as possible, research by both industry and location.

Give the following salary negotiating tips a try, from Laura DeCarlo, Executive Director of Career Directors International.

1. Do your homework.
This includes researching the current market value for the position and carrying that knowledge with you into the talks. Creating a PayScale Salary Profile and keeping it updated helps you to always know the median value for your skill set. Learn how to negotiate salary from a position of strength by having the most current salary information for your job.

2. Know your needs and wants.
"You have a range in mind of what you'd really like. Otherwise, if you are out in left field-you are never going to be successful. [For example] a woman who wants to make $55,000 a year and decides she's changing careers and wants to be a typist-I don't know many $55,000-a-year typists," DeCarlo said.

3. Learn a methodology for handling the questions, "What are you looking for?" and "What kind of salary do you want?"
According to DeCarlo, the bottom line is, "I'm negotiable." If it's too soon to talk about money, she encourages applicants to change the discussion topic to job requirements or expectations. Learn how to negotiate salary by being prepared for salary questions during the interview.

4. Know your options, and ask, ask, ask.
Be familiar with possible perks and benefits, and ways to increase your salary. Brainstorming and making lists can be useful here. "I've seen people turn it into mileage allowances for driving. Anything is potentially negotiable unless you don't ask about it," she said.

5. Always negotiate in person.
"You can't read an expression, show a presentation or have convincing reasons quite as well on the phone as you can when you engage them [employers] face-to-face," DeCarlo said. Learning how to negotiate salary in person is a key to higher earnings.

Salary resources

Salary, vacation and benefits

During a second interview (never the first interview), or once you've been offered a job, it's important to ask about not only salary, but benefits, vacation time, 401(k)s, and other company perks such as educational reimbursement or sabbaticals. Make sure you're in the know about all the benefits that do and don't come with your job.

Get expert advice

Have a job offer (or two) on the table, but not sure whether it's right for you? Contact us to schedule a meeting with a career adviser. We'd love to help you evaluate offers or research salaries as needed.

Considering Relocation?

If you're asking yourself the question, "Should I relocate?" a little caution couldn't hurt. Your reasons for wanting to move may seem pretty important right now (e.g., a relationship—or the end of one; change of scenery; or perceived opportunities), but you shouldn't just pack your bags and go. Asking yourself and then answering some other questions can help you decide if it's a good idea.

  • Are there jobs available in my field?
    While jobs may be plentiful in your field in one city, there may be far fewer employment opportunities in another. Before you pack your bags, see what jobs are available by looking for local job openings. Also find out what employment trends the experts predict for the future. Make sure you can find work in your new home.
  • What is the cost of living and how much can I expect to earn?
    The cost of living varies from place to place, and with that, so do salaries. Find out what salary you can expect and how the cost of living compares with your current one.
  • Will the work environment be more stressful?
    Let's say you want to move from a small town to a big city. The environment in which you're used to working may be somewhat laid back if you are coming from a small town. Things may move at a faster pace in a big city. Can you handle that? Do you want to?
  • Will the work environment move at a different pace?
    While moving from a small town to a big city can mean a more stressful work environment, doing the opposite can mean one that is much more quiet. While some people may appreciate the calm, you may not be one of them. You will have to decide what type of environment will keep you motivated.
  • What will my daily commute be like?
    You may be used to driving to work everyday, but some locales aren't amenable to that. You might have to rely on public transportation. Or, you might be used to an efficient public transportation system that won't be available to you in your new city. You may be used to a quick drive to work, which will no longer be possible if you move.
  • Will my significant other be able to find a job?
    If you have a partner, he/she will probably need to find a job too. If there aren't opportunities available for both of you, this move may not work out.
  • Will my work environment be more or less formal?
    How formal your work environment is will affect everything from how you dress for work to how you greet clients. Generally speaking, work environments in bigger cities tend to be more formal than those in smaller towns. If you cringe at the idea of wearing a suit to work everyday, you should consider this.

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