As someone who is in the beginning stages of your career, you may think you have little or no leverage when negotiating salary and benefits when interviewing for your first job.
However, by playing the game correctly, you may end up with exactly what you want. At All About Careers, a leading career-building advice firm, we worked with one graduate who negotiated for $6,000 more in salary and a new truck (needed for his job!) than what he expected. He ended up with one of the highest compensation packages out of his entire class.
Keep these simple rules in mind when the salary issue comes up in your job search.
Rule #1 Prior to the job offer, the only conversation about money should be to confirm that the range of what the employer says is budgeted for this position. If you feel that you must earn $40,000 and the employer states that the job is budgeted at $24,000 for total compensation, then don’t waste your time or the employer’s time. If the employer states that the job is budgeted at $35,000, then you may want to continue the interviewing process, because other benefits, such as 401K savings plans and health insurance, could help you reach the desired $40,000.< /p>
Don’t be the first person to bring up or name a price. Don’t show your hand. If you are pressed into giving an answer, offer a range. A suggestion is to take the going rate and raise it by 10%. It can never hurt to ask, just be able to back up your reasons why your asking price is what it is! Don’t tell a hiring manager that the going rate is X; he or she already knows what the going rate is and you don’t want to come across as pompous.
Rule #2 Understand the real value of what the offer includes so that you can do an accurate evaluation. What is the value of the health insurance? Is it 100% or partially paid? Is there an expense account? What will it cost you to commute or park? Does the company offer a savings plan? Are there discounts or reimbursements on health club memberships or other clubs? Do you need to wear a suit (which means pricey new clothes and dry cleaning bills!) or can you dress more casually?
These areas are key in determining what your take home check will be. Put a value on these benefits and add it to the compensation package to get a clear picture of where your offer really stands.
Rule #3 Know what the going rate is in industry and for that position you are interviewing for, and determine your worth. Do your homework. There are several tools that you can check to get listing of industry rates:
- Check trade associations by industry
- Magazine surveys
These can be excellent resources not only for getting job interviews, but also to gain valuable information. Try to locate a recruiter that specializes in the industry that you have chosen.
Valuing your worth: How much is "enough money?" How much do you really need to live on? Set a realistic budget for your living expenses. Include the costs of your rent, college or car loans, food, insurance, gas, utilities and entertainment. Think about living with a few roommates versus a place of your own.
Do you have contacts and relationships or experience that will quickly add a benefit to the new employer? Research what your value should be. Understand though, that these figures will vary due to region, experience, company size and need.
Rule #4 Once you have agreed upon a figure, don’t go back on it. Be a person of your word.
Rule #5 Don’t be a diva! Most companies are watching every dollar, so don’t request expensive perks.
Rule #6 Ask for incentives and performance based perks. Any company should be thrilled to offer incentives for delivering. They will feel that you have a strong desire to win and will put in the extra effort to do so.
Rule #7 If the offer is less than you want; evaluate what it can do for your career. For example, a recent All About Careers client was offered two jobs within two days. One job paid $38,000 and while the other paid $50,000. The lower offer was for her dream job. Which do you think she took? Although the money looked good, she knows her dream job will make her happier and help facilitate her desired career path.
Negotiating doesn’t have to be complex or overly stressful. By following a few rules, you will impress your potential employer with your professionalism and business savvy and walk away with more money in your pocket!
Laurie Kahn is co-founder of All About Careers, which provides innovative approaches to creating and building careers. It is also host of the AAC Dream Job Boot Camp™: Guerilla tips, tactics and strategies for the seriously motivated career-seeker. The intensive, two-day workshops are geared toward college age individuals who are just beginning their careers. Additionally, the group offers its programs on-site at campuses nationwide. For more information, visit AllAboutCareers.com or call 312.944.9194 x108.
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