If we are being 100% honest here, no one really wants to look for a new job. It’s a lot of tedious work to update your resume, (which if you are anything like me you haven’t done in a few years), writing cover letters, and completing a lengthy online application profile (which is different every single place you apply). Then, after you get all of your materials submitted you still have to endure the gauntlet of interviews that are in front of you. However, when you finally make it past the trap doors and fire breathing dragons and receive that glorious phone call from a recruiter saying, “congratulations! We want you!”, it is often quickly soured when the salary offer comes in about 20K a year less than you were hoping. In today’s world everything is about value creation, ROI, and how your skill set will enhance your new employer. So before you say “YES I WOULD LOVE THE JOB!”, take a step back, sleep on it and see if this is truly going to be a good fit.
Getting to the final stages of a job offer can be one of the most exciting things in life, like buying a house or the new car you always wanted. However, this is also the time that you get to ask all of the questions that you didn’t get to during the interview. When the offer is on the table your potential new employer is wanting to impress you just as much as you are wanting to impress them. Now is the time to ask about the benefits package. What does it really entail and how much out of pocket is the insurance actually going to cost you? Other questions to get right before you talk about the money is how much paid leave do you accrue, are flexible schedules possible or can you telecommute, are there corporate sponsored events and how much professional development is associated with this position?
All of these areas should affect the salary you will be requiring to get started for example, if your new position starts at 70K a year, but you are shelling out $500 – $600 a month to cover your family for insurance, that can significantly impact your salary requirements if your previous employer covered 100% of the insurance premiums. Once you have a stronger insight into the benefits offered by your new employer, now is the time to talk salary. When you really start to talk about hard numbers, THE MOST IMPORTANT KEY to negotiating a fair salary, is to know your value. You can’t expect a new employer to understand what your value is if you first haven’t taken the time to measure your value. Research what your dollar amount is in comparison to this position in like industries and competitors.
How do you find out what the competition is paying? Check out websites like Glassdoor and Salary.com. Their sole purpose of existence is to provide objective 3rd party reviews and salary comparisons. With this information, you will be equipped with the knowledge of your going rate. It is important to note that not all of the items in the benefits package will be negotiable, nor should you negotiate on all potential items. If the salary is not going to be where you need it to be, make sure that you look at increasing vacation accrual or a flexible working schedule. However, also know that you should pick your top 2-3 items going into the salary negotiations. When you try to negotiate every available option, your employer may get cold feet and jump. Keep in mind nothing is finalized until you have a written confirmation from your new employer.
If you are seeking more information about job hopping tips, how to leave your employer on a positive note, or looking for more tips on negotiating salaries, check out Forbes.com and U.S. News as they always have great articles being posted regarding these subject matter areas.
Do your research, ace the interview, get the job, and feel good about your salary when you start! Happy hunting!