The median salary for someone working in manufacturing hit $85,600 in 2017 – only two other industries had a higher median salary. I’ve seen many successful professionals build extremely lucrative careers that far exceed this median. Yet I’ve also seen equally talented professionals not get paid what they’re worth simply because they didn’t know to ask for it.

The path to a higher salary isn’t to hope for a raise or bonus. It should begin before you ever receive an offer. Here’s how to approach salary negotiations during the job search.

What Are You Making Now?

If you’re switching from one job to another, it can be tempting to boost your numbers a bit. Maybe you’ll give yourself a 10 percent raise from what you’re actually making. Or perhaps you’ll go the other way – you don’t want to come in with a number that’s too high and scare a company away.

Both of these options aren’t the answer. You need to be honest about what you’re making – first and foremost with yourself, but also so you don’t haphazardly throw a number out to impress a hiring manager.

In fact, in some states, you don’t need to throw out that number at all. 18 state governments have banned employers from requesting pay history from candidates. They can only ask about what you’re seeking, which is your next consideration.

What Are You Looking For?

You know what you’re making now, but what do you hope to earn at a new position? Obviously, you want to earn as much as you can, and oftentimes, companies are trying to pay as little as possible. Ideally, you’ll meet somewhere in the middle, and if you’re good at negotiating, you’ll get closer to that higher number.

The first step is to consider all the elements of the new position. Is there more responsibility? Are the benefits better? Does it require relocating or additional travel? All of these can affect the base salary, so make adjustments to your final target number as needed.

Be Transparent and Communicative

I still find that many candidates are hesitant to talk about money. However, there’s no shame in being transparent about what you hope to make. Companies that are interested in a candidate will rarely balk at a salary request. They’ll either accept it or negotiate to something else.

Some people like to provide a range; others will determine a fixed salary request. Both can result in you getting the number you want, though they require a slightly different strategy.

If you present a range to your potential employer, the lowest number should be the absolute minimum you’d accept. Chances are the hiring manager will offer that number, so if your “ideal” is actually in the middle of the range, you could be missing out on several thousand dollars.

Because of that, some candidates like to offer one set salary to employers. In this case, I suggest presenting a number that’s higher than your ideal minimum. If the company’s budget forces them to come in slightly lower than that, it’s still within your requirements.

Salary isn’t a one-way street. It should be an open dialogue between the candidate and the hiring company. If you’re looking for a career change, I encourage you to have that conversation with confidence.

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