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How to Negotiate an Offer As an Older Job Seeker

By Maurie Backman - Feb 12, 2018 at 6:33AM

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If you're in your 50s or 60s, you might feel compelled to settle when a job offer comes your way. Here's how to fight for the salary you deserve.

The more time you put into your career, the more knowledge and experience you bring to the table. And while you'd think those points would work in your favor, the reality is that countless job searchers -- particularly those in their 50s and 60s -- frequently fall victim to age discrimination. Therefore, if you're fortunate enough to get an offer at a time in your life when you clearly don't have a ton of working years left, you may be inclined to accept it without pushing back. But that's a move that could hurt you, especially if the salary being offered is well below what you deserve.

The fact is that being an older worker should not by any means compel you to settle for an offer that isn't as fair as it could be. So as you gear up to negotiate, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Older man in a suit shaking hands with another professional


1. Talk up your five-year plan

One reason employers might hesitate to offer older workers high salaries is that they assume they're filling an immediate need, as opposed to making a long-term investment. Remember, there's a cost to bringing new employees up to speed, and even if you come in with experience, you'll need assistance learning the ropes. And while a company might be willing to put in that time if it's eager to fill an opening, you may not get the same offer as someone who'd be expected to stay at that job for multiple years.

That's why it's important to weave your long-term plans into that negotiation, even if they are somewhat fabricated. Emphasize the fact that you're eager to grow with the company and add value year after year. Using this sort of language might make your prospective employer more comfortable with the idea of investing in you, especially if it sends the message that you aren't looking to retire anytime soon.

2. Highlight your most measurable accomplishments

When you want to get more money out of a company, a good way to do so is to prove that you're able to make that business money, save it money, or both. So as part of your negotiation, be prepared to talk numbers and statistics that speak to your strong performance history. For example, if you increased sales by 3% quarter after quarter over a five-year period at your last job, say so. If your software fixes saved your previous company $300,000 in outside consulting fees, talk that number up. Focusing on measurable value can really help build a case for more money.

3. Go in prepared

No matter your age, your chances of negotiating a job offer successfully will increase if you go in knowing what you're really worth. So before you have that conversation, do some research to see what folks with your job title are earning. Better yet, narrow that data down to your specific location for a true apples-to-apples comparison. If you're not sure where to begin, job site Glassdoor has a handy "Know Your Worth" tool that lets you compare salary data based on the aforementioned criteria. If you can prove that the offer on the table is low, you stand a better chance of eking out more money.

Just because you're an older job seeker doesn't mean you don't deserve a respectable salary. Quite the contrary -- you've paid your dues and worked hard all your life, so now's hardly the time to settle. And if you approach that negotiation strategically, you won't have to.

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