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Do Less Work, Make More Money

Hey, it's hard to find a job these days. If you are lucky enough to get an offer of employment, the last thing you want to do is blow the deal by asking for a decent salary. That would be crass. It would also give the impression that simply being in your new boss's presence 12 hours a day isn't a sufficient reward.

Or maybe not. According to "How to Get the Salary You Want," by Joe Light in The Wall Street Journal, there are techniques that will turn up the heat — and the compensation — on a puny job offer.

"A tight job market might have taken away some jobseekers' leverage in a salary negotiation, but that doesn't mean they should roll over and accept the first offer," says New York-based executive coach Rabia de Lande Long, one of the workplace experts interviewed by reporter Light. I agree. Since you will be spending all your time at the new job rolling over, playing fetch and waiting to be petted, you might as well have one luminous flash of independence before going into full lap dog mode.

Not sure you can muster the courage to ask for a bump? Here are five tips provided by the experts:

"Do your research" is Tip No. 1. Before you even invest in a pack of gum so your interview breath is minty fresh, consult websites like Salary.com and Payscale.com to "get an idea of what similar professionals in your industry get paid." Of course, you should keep in mind that similar professionals may not have similar work habits or accomplishments. Learning how to sneak out the back door without setting off the fire alarm may have made you a hero at your current position, but it won't put you on equal footing, salary-wise, with hard-charging candidates who actually care about their work.

Tip No. 2: "Don't give out the first number." The idea here is to avoid potentially embarrassing questions, like "What is your salary requirement?" Bid too low and your potential employer can see just how desperate you are. Bid too high and you could force the hiring manager to laugh so hard they stroke out on you.

Fortunately, this is one area where your genius at avoiding responsibility can help. When the interviewer says, "What is your salary requirement?" you respond, "What do you think my salary requirement should be?" If the interviewer replies, "Gee, I think someone like you would be happy to work for bottle caps and bubble gum cards," you know any offer will not only satisfy your needs, but also add considerably to your bottle cap and bubble gum card collections.

Another technique for avoiding the dreaded salary discussion comes from Georgia career coach Walter Akana, who suggests you provide only your "total compensation." "Just spell out salary, benefits, bonuses, and anything else your current employer offers," suggests Akana. And don't forget to include the benefit of being allowed to detail the boss's Jaguar on your birthday, but prepare for a skeptical response. Not everyone will believe that a person as good looking as you would be given that much responsibility.

Speaking of what potential employers will and will not believe, Tip No. 3 is "Don't lie." In other words, don't inflate your present salary in the hope that your new employer will feel they have to meet or beat it. Unfortunately, your current salary is so low that even if you tell the truth, no one will believe you. Therefore, you probably should lie and increase your salary to, say, minimum wage. That should be highly believable, since all your references will testify that you do minimum work.

"Don't take the first offer" is Tip No. 4. The concept here is that employers expect you to negotiate, so they make the first offer low. But what if the first offer is also the last offer? And what if there are 20 people lined up who would be delighted to take that first low offer, or less, for the privilege of getting a regular paycheck?

That's why I say — grab that first offer. Your friends may not respect you, but they will borrow money from you.

"Go for other benefits" is Tip No. 5, and I agree 100 percent. Insist on a chair to use when working at your desk, and if you're really feeling confident, go ahead and ask for the benefit of detailing the new boss's Jaguar. That's one work assignment you really do well.

Bob Goldman has been an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company in the San Francisco Bay Area. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

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