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Negotiating Salary

Q. Can I change my desired salary after my final interview? I was just promoted in my current job, and I think will have a higher salary before my final interview.

A. Congratulations on your promotion! The timing does pose challenges in your negotiation with your potential new employer, and before you talk to them, you need to find out where you stand with your current employer. First you will want to understand what the promotion offers you. What is the financial component of the promotion and what is the impact in terms of new responsibility? Is this what you wanted from your current employer? Most people don’t leave jobs just to make more money. There are many other reasons that send people out into the open job market and away from what their current employer has to offer. Most people are looking to change jobs in order to get a new manager, or for more opportunities for development. Most situations where there is a counter offer to stay do not succeed.

It sounds like you are confident you want the new job, and that things are progressing well for you in that process, but you don’t have an offer yet. Companies and hiring managers most often ask for information about compensation prior to the final interview. Most likely you gave them information on what you are currently making and what you are looking for at some point earlier in the process. The most effective negotiators offer a salary range to provide for some flexibility, and also ask how that range fit in their pay plans for the position. If you have not had that conversation, you will be able to add your raise to what your current compensation is - even if you haven’t started making that rate of pay yet.

During your next interview, continue to sell yourself into this role. You don't yet have an offer, so it is too early to try to negotiate pay. One of the ways to introduce your promotion to the conversation is to talk about the new responsibilities you have been asked to take over as part of a promotion. Discuss the new responsibilities as an extension of what you are currently doing, which would also show them what you can do for them in your potential new role. You may be asked if you got a raise, and that is the time to let them know that "Yes, I have been offered an X% raise. How does that fit into the salary range you have designated for this position?"

Your power to negotiate is at its peak at the point of offer and while you are discussing the role. Your power is not as high before an offer is made, or after you accept an offer. So while you can change your desired salary after the final interview, hiring managers won't want to feel mislead if they give you an offer with the number you said you wanted, and you tell them that isn't the number anymore. You can review the components of the offer, and ask how much flexibility there is. You can suggest alternatives and remember to focus on what makes this the best offer for you.

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