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In a perfect world you'd always get paid what you deserve and you'd love your job every day. But in the real world, neither of those things happens all the time. Whether you're negotiating a new salary at your current job or in negotiations for a new job, the talk about money is always going to require a little extra care. If your first negotiation is rejected, take a deep breath and move onto the next phase: renegotiation.
When you hear that you're not going to get the salary you wanted, do your best to remain calm. Whether you're already working for the company or you're deciding whether to sign on, the best course of action is to remain professional. Money may be tied to your sense of worth, but try not to take it personally when things don't go your way. If you're already working at the company, use the rejected negotiation as an opportunity to ask how you can improve your performance the next time the salary talk comes around. If you don't already work for the company, don't storm off in a huff because burning bridges is never a wise choice. Ask for a few days to think about the negotiation and then take that time to determine whether the offer is really so bad after all.
Know the Competition
Part of knowing how to react to a salary offer is knowing how much others in similar positions are getting paid. You should research the pay for your position before your negotiations in order to know where you stand. But if that's not possible, or you didn't remember, do it after the negotiations. Check out the job postings for similar jobs in your area, ask around to colleagues who work for other companies, or post an anonymous question on an industry forum to find out whether the company rejected your salary because it's way out of range.
Once you know what others are making, think about coming back with a counteroffer. Let the company managers know you're committed to the job, and then reiterate some of the valuable assets you bring to the table. If the salary is the big issue, focus only on the salary in the counteroffer negotiation instead of completely renegotiating all the details, recommends Quintessential Careers. Choosing one or two "battles" is a better tactic than completely reinventing the wheel during this second round.
Other Bargaining Chips
In some cases, the salary might be non-negotiable because the company simply can't afford to pay you more than what it offered. If that's the case, and you still really want the job, seek other perks. Ask for a share in the company's profits, company stock, an expense account or a better benefits package, recommends U.S. News & World Report. Getting some of those extras might make the lower base salary easier to deal with. When you arrive at an offer you can live with, get the details in writing so things are as clear as possible going into the next phase of the process.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.