Career Prep: Negotiating Your Salary


In our most recent Career Prep series, Fielding Tough Interview Questions, we examined typical employer questions designed to reveal your character and weed out undesirable salary negotiationjob candidates. Almost every employer uses these tactics, an important way to separate potential employees. You know that you made it through the interview process if you were called back in and extended a job offer. Before you say “I do” there is something you must consider — your salary. Negotiating the best deal for yourself now can earn you tens of thousands of dollars more over your lifetime. Let’s take a look at some points to consider when negotiating pay.

So, you think negotiating your salary is cut and dry now, do you? Far from it! Although many employers have a certain pay scale that they are willing to pay new graduates, there can be wide latitude when coming up with your actual salary. Your job is to get the most money now as that amount will be the basis for all future raises. A 5% salary increase on $35,000 per year is a lot higher than the same increase on $30,000.

When an offer is extended, you probably already know what the salary range is. In some cases, you’ll be offered a certain amount, let’s say $32,000 to start, take it or leave it. Before you take it, please know that even the inflexible salary can be flexed. Here’s how:

Know What You’re Worth — Just because the company always pays their new I.T. guys “X” amount to start, doesn’t mean you should settle for that amount. If you can document that I.T. specialists typically start out at a higher rate, then show that information to your potential employer. It could be that they haven’t updated their salary information in some time or they may not have a good understanding what you’re worth. Be persuasive — explain to your future boss why paying you the going rate is the way to go: you aren’t a newbie, you have experience!

List Your Strengths — Assuming that you are “green” could mean that their offer to you will be low. If you have worked summers in the I.T. department of a major company, have successfully implemented a complicated restructuring project elsewhere, or have some other strengths that weren’t understood by the employer when you were being interviewed, you need to restate that information now. Some companies do not have an appreciation for I.T. talent, therefore you can “educate” people by restating your strengths.

Look For Other Points Of Negotiation — For some companies, negotiating isn’t an option. This is what they can afford to pay you and that is that. If you still want to work for them, consider other less tangible benefits that may be open for negotiation. Perhaps an extra week’s vacation for the first year. A flexible work schedule. Tuition reimbursement offered now instead of waiting six months or more. Immediate inclusion in the company 401(k) plan. Maybe a larger office or use of a company laptop are some other things to consider. You understand what I am saying — benefits and other intangibles are important too.

Whatever tact you decide to take, being persuasive — not pushy or demanding — can help you bring about the desired result. A sob story won’t help — why should they worry about your student loan debt? But, convincing your employer what a terrific asset you will be to them can pay immediate and long lasting dividends.

Happy negotiating!


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Categories: Career Planning