SALARIES, SALARIES, SALARIES!

My grandmother once told me if you had enough money to pay your rent/mortgage, all of your bills, and still have money left to put into savings, you were doing just fine. Simplistic, perhaps, but very true. One of the most difficult aspects of saying “yes” to a new job is negotiating your salary, benefits, and other possible perks.

Let’s say you’ve sent a potential employer your perfect resume and cover letter, aced the phone and/or in-person interview(s), and it’s been determined you’re the best candidate for the job. Before you say yes, take the time to do your homework before accepting a first offer. This is the BEST time for you to negotiate before you begin your new job.

Typically, perhaps in your first phone call from a potential employer, they might bring up the topic of how much money you’d like to make. Let them rather than you! If you’re asked this question, defer the question as long as possible, but do have a salary range in mind:

Employer: “What sort of salary were you thinking of?

You: “After researching the current market, and with my experience, I was thinking $85,000 to $100,000 sounds about right. Does the position’s salary fall within this range?”

When you quote a range, be certain the lowest figure you mention, in this example $85,000, is the lowest figure you’re willing to accept. You’ll be able to figure this out from doing research online (www.salary.com and http://www.salaryexpert.com are good websites) as well as speaking with people from your job network and from informational interviews. 

If your interviewer mentions the salary you want is too high for the position, consider how much lower the actual salary might be than what you want and what perks you might be able to negotiate instead. For example, I was offered a job for a prestigious company in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, the salary was $3000 less than what I was making. The hiring manager was very nice, and mentioned that while she couldn’t match my current salary, she would be able to give me a $3000 hiring bonus to make up the difference. Other things you might try and negotiate are extra paid vacation days/weeks, medical/dental insurance starting immediately instead of after several months, paid transportation costs, stock options, etc.

Remember, if you are offered a salary which you are unhappy about, won’t meet your budget, and the employer won’t budge during negotiations, your power lies in your ability to simply walk away and politely say no to the job offer. Or, if you really want to work for the company, ask the hiring manager if you could negotiate a six-month job review, at which time you could possibly discuss a bump in your salary. Remember, it never hurts to ask for what you want!

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