Educate November 2017

Tips to Negotiating Salary for a New Job


Written By: Craig Petrus, Executive Director of Career Services, University of Florida, Warrington college of Business

When conducting your research, it is important to focus on a few key areas that will help provide leverage and ammunition during your negotiations.

An important aspect of securing any new job is that of negotiating salary. Just like anything in life, the more prepared you are, the better chance you have in walking away with a compensation package that meets or comes close to your expectations.

When to Discuss Salary

The first thing to keep in mind is when to actually have the salary conversation during the interview process. When interviewing for a new job, you want to hold off on talking about compensation until the later rounds of the interview process. As a candidate, asking salary questions during the first interview is a turn-off for many recruiters, as the impression you are giving is that you are chasing dollar signs and not really into the job or company itself.

Don’t worry, if you like the job and the company you are interviewing for and they like you, the compensation question will come up soon enough. However, if they are to bring it up in your first-round interview, which happens a lot, just to ensure the two parties and their compensation expectations are aligned, then yes, answer their question. I often recommend that your initial response be a bit general in nature, so that the recruiter does not think money is your most important motivator. An initial response can be something similar to “I am looking for a compensation range that is competitive for someone with my skill set and what is competitive to this particular role.” Most likely, you will then be asked to communicate a range of your current and/or desired compensation range that you are looking for. If you have done your compensation research prior to this interview, then answering this question should be easy.

Do Your Research

It is highly recommended that you conduct compensation research prior to even having a first-round interview with the company that you are interviewing for. You want to go in having a strong understanding of what the role you are interviewing for actually pays. A few suggested websites to conduct initial salary research are Glassdoor.com and Salary.com. Both sites offer a significant amount of data related to salary that can be used as comparisons and leverage as you enter your negotiations.

When conducting your research, it is important to focus on a few key areas that will help provide leverage and ammunition during your negotiations. Such things as a “cost of living” comparison. Living and working in Gainesville, Florida is not the same as living and working in New York City. A $100,000 salary in Jacksonville, Florida is not the same $100,000 salary in San Francisco. You need to keep these things in mind when thinking about counter offers.

Another key aspect to think about is the company itself. A vice president of marketing job and its salary range at a regional, mid-sized consumer packaged goods company will not be similar to the same role at a global, Fortune-500 CPG company. Know who you are negotiating with and the size/scope of the company itself. There are a number of “cost of living” comparison tools online such as banrate.com and payscale.com.

When pushed by the recruiter to provide a salary range, utilize the research you conducted and provide a range, not a specific number, that is high, but still within the competitive range of what you found in your research. It is important to keep in mind that you do not want to communicate a figure that is so high and not realistic, so that the recruiter is turned-off and the interview abruptly ends there. It is also important to communicate the range so both parties are aligned throughout the entire interview process. As a former recruiter, I would never want to think highly of a candidate and bring them through several rounds of interviews only to have it fall apart at the end due to compensation expectations being far apart.

Receiving the Offer

It has come to the point in the interview process where they like you and you like them, which then results in the job offer itself. Now is the time when the compensation discussions really start to kick in.

As the first compensation offer is extended to you, be gracious in your response regardless of what the number may be. Communicate that you appreciate the offer, you are excited about the possibility of working with the team and company, but would like a few days to think about the offer itself. In essence, you are buying yourself some additional time to review the offer and compensation package in its entirety and ensuring it is indeed in your best career interest. Ask when they need an answer by, so that you can ensure each of you are on the same page related to response time.

Once you have the offer in hand, review it holistically and not just the dollar figure. It is important to understand the entire offer that has been provided to you such as vacation time, 401(k), personal leave and other fringe benefits that make up the offer. Sometimes the offer may be lower in dollars than what you were expecting, but can be made up in areas such as their retirement plan, health benefits and company bonus. Other things to think about is your daily commute, dedicated holidays and company culture. While an offer may seem attractive, the grass may not be greener on the other side. Think about the offer as a whole and not just the dollar signs.

Making a Counter Offer

When making a counter offer, there are two important things to keep in mind: preparation and value proposition.

Preparation consists of you taking the time to carve out your counter offer in an outline form prior to communicating in person or on the phone. It is very helpful to outline your discussion on paper, so that when you do deliver it, you deliver it in confidence.

The second important factor is your value proposition, or the reason why you are asking for more money. It is important for you to make a compelling argument as to why you are worth it. The reason you are asking for more money may be because you feel you are worth more, and this is okay. But you need to communicate this to the company and define the “why.” Key components to outline is your level and years of experience, education, the unique skills you bring to this job that no one else has (which you need to communicate strongly in this situation).

Like you did in the interview process, you need to differentiate yourself from the others. It is highly recommended you have these discussions either on the phone or in person, never via email. The recruiter or hiring manager needs to hear firsthand your passion, dedication and ambition for the job and company. This cannot be felt in an email. It is also important to stay positive throughout the entire process. You want to ensure that when an agreement on compensation is made on both sides, your first day on the job will be an exciting one and not overshadowed by any negativity that may have resulted during the compensation negotiation process. If they hit your desired number, be prepared to say yes fairly quickly. However, if they do not, it is okay to walk away. You need to do what is in the best interest for you and your career.

 

CRAIG PETRUS joined the Warrington College of Business in June 2009. As Executive Director, Craig is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Business Career Services Office and ensuring the delivery of quality career development programming and services to students within the College of Business at the University of Florida.

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