Tips for Salary Negotiations

While most people think of negotiations solely in terms of money, there’s a lot more to it, especially if you think in terms of total compensation versus base salary.  Here are some things to consider…

1. Do Your Research/Know What You’re Worth

The first thing you need to do is gather information.  Make sure you know market rates before you get to the negotiations part of the process.  In order to get accurate salary information, you need to consider not only the position and your years of experience, but also the geographic area.  Great online resources include salary.com, payscale.com and onetonline.net.  You can also go to industry specific sites, such as the Salary Center on RobertHalf.com, which reports solely on the finance and accounting fields.  By doing your research before you have this conversation with a potential employer, you will be able to negotiate with a clear salary in mind, confident that you are not starting too low, nor knocking yourself out of contention by requesting too much.

2. Wait

The saying in the negotiating game is ‘the first person who puts a number on the table loses’.   Wait for the employer to bring up salary.  This may happen during the screening process, in which case the HR rep or manager simply wants to make sure you’re in the same ballpark – if you’re looking for 60K and they are offering 45K, it may not pay to continue the conversation (back to step one and research).   If you are forced to put a number on the table early in the conversation, try to speak in terms of a low, mid or high – “I’m targeting a salary in the mid 50’s or high 40’s.”  This will give you some room to negotiate when an actual offer is on the table.

3. It’s Not All About the Money                                                                                      

Think about total compensation versus simply focusing on the base salary.  Find out about all of the benefits the company has to offer including health insurance, vacation policy, sick leave, and reimbursable expenses, to name a few.  Some companies may have non-negotiable salaries but that doesn’t mean they can’t be flexible in other ways, such as working from home, vacation days, or flexible hours.  Write a list of the things you need versus the things you want before you discuss compensation, so you are clear about where you have some give.  Make sure you consider the whole package before you make a final decision on a job offer.

4. Sleep On It

The hiring manager may make an offer at the end of the interview.  This is more likely in the case of an internship than a full time job, but in either case, take your time.  You do not have to answer that day unless you are 100% sure you know what’s being offered and have asked every question you have about the position.  If an offer is made at the interview, express enthusiasm and appreciation, then give yourself time to consider the whole package before giving your answer.  Be clear about when you’ll get back to the manager with questions and your answer.  Remember – the best opportunity to negotiate is after the company has said ‘we want you’ and before you sign on the bottom line.

5. Can I Negotiate an Internship Offer?                                                                                                  

Why not?  The saying ‘you don’t get what you don’t ask for’ comes to mind.  Even if the salary isn’t negotiable (and it may be), things like hours may be up for discussion.  The same goes if it’s an unpaid internship – travel expenses may be something the employer will cover, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

6. The beginning of a partnership

Remember this is the start of a work relationship, not the beginning of a battle.  You need to do your research, make your requests and agree to a compensation package that works for you and the company.                                                                                                                                         

You don’t have to go any farther than the Career Center portal page in Pirate Net for more information about negotiating.  Just click on the Career Guide and go to the section on ‘Managing Offers’.  You can also find all of the links about research mentioned above by clicking on “External career and job search websites”.  Want to hear from some others in the field?  Click on the Candid Careers link on the Career Center portal page to access videos on negotiations.   Book some time with your career advisor by calling 973-761-9355 or stop by Bayley Hall, Room 209.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, November 8th print edition.

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