Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Should You Negotiate Salary - Even in a Tough Job Search Market?

I admit that until just recently my answer to this question would have been a resounding "yes." I have always taught job seekers that if you don't negotiate salary when an offer is made then you are leaving money on the table. However, the job market has been challenging the last few years, to say the least, and my answer has changed from "always" to "most of the time."

For those of you that follow me on this blog, you know I have been in an interview process for a part-time teaching job recently. I received a job offer last week and was faced with this very question - to negotiate or not. Let's examine the reasons whether or not to negotiate that I considered when making this decision.

When to Negotiate
A recent article on www.salary.com suggested that around 80% of organizations expect salary negotiations to occur and they leave themselves some wiggle room in the initial offer. A counter-offer that is based in research and backed up with concrete facts and demonstrates the value you offer to the company is most always well-received. Here are some situations when you should take advantage of salary negotiations:

  • If you have conducted your research into the going rates and the offer you received is well below the market standard, then you may have a case for asking for higher compensation. 
  • If you can demonstrate measurable ways that you can benefit the company (i.e. increased sales, improved profits, or reduced safety violations) you can show why you deserve more salary.
  • Companies often offer a salary range at which they are willing to hire you in the interview process. If you have more than 5 years of experience, but you are offered a position at the lower end of the scale, you should consider negotiating salary. Once again, discuss the experience and value you offer.
  • Consider negotiating more than just salary. Think about education reimbursements, benefits, car or travel allowances, and additional paid vacation when negotiating.

When Not to Negotiate
I recently read an article where the hiring manager stated that she would rescind an offer if the person seemed to be negotiating salary without sufficient justification, proof of their value or worth, and with no evidence of how they could add value to her organization. In other words, don't just automatically negotiate salary; always conduct your research and see if you have a valid point.

If the company provides you with a range of salary in the interview, they usually ask you if that range is acceptable to you. If you say yes, and they offer you the high end of that range, it will be thought of negatively if you try to negotiate a higher salary. Once again, conducting research before you even begin the interview is very important. This way you are prepared to gauge whether or not the company's salary range is in line with industry standards and can raise the issue early in the process.

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