One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of searching for a new job isn't the interview process – it's the salary negotiation.
Ask for too much, and you may alienate your potential employer. Ask for too little, and you're setting the foundation for low salary expectations down the road. Yet the fact remains – you have worked too hard to let a company undermine your education and experience. Even in today's sluggish and competitive economy, you deserve to be paid what you're worth.
The best thing you can do for your financial health is to research your value in the workplace before walking into the interview room to arm yourself with the statistics and data needed to come out on top of the negotiation battle.
Understanding your value
The first thing to do is check out career-oriented websites that collect salary data or trend information to help you find the salary average in your career field. Some good sites to check out include Salary.com, Indeed.com and Payscale.com. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers surveys of corporate payroll information and breaks down salaries by the 100 Metropolitan Statistical Areas so you can better gauge salary averages in your city.
Consider These Ideas When Negotiating Salary
But statistics alone aren't enough – the websites only spotlight ballpark numbers in regards to compensation and don't take into consideration each individual's skills, location and background.
Therefore, you need to apply the data to your unique situation when negotiating salary:
- Your location – The cost of living in your city is going to heavily affect your compensation. If you are in a rural location, your salary will likely be on the lower end of the salary range. However, if you're moving to a more expensive city like Boston or San Francisco, you can use it as a powerful negotiation tool.
- Your experience and accomplishments – Your years in the field should correspond with your compensation. However, don't overlook experience outside the workplace – freelancing, volunteering and training can all push you higher in salary as can industry awards and participation in trade associations. Also, be sure to focus on your accomplishments – if you have delivered results that have grown business and increased revenue, these achievements are your best negotiation tool.
- Your education – In many professions, a bachelor's or master's degree can help drive salary negotiations as can continuing education, extra licenses and certifications. If salary negotiations stall, see if the company will help cover the cost of tuition if you wish to continue your education.
- Your responsibilities – If you are being promoted or switching to a new job, it's safe to say you will take on new responsibilities – in many cases, more duties than you're in charge of now. If your pay does not increase with increased responsibilities, it's important to bring this to the attention of your hiring manager.
- Your benefits – If a company refuses to budge on salary, it's not over. See if you can negotiate additional benefits, such as a flexible work schedule, bonuses, extra vacation days, or other non-salary benefits to create a compensation agreement all parties can agree on.
Salary Agreements Should Benefit You and the Company
In 2010, a report from Robert Half found that one-third of professionals felt they weren't paid fairly for the extra work they took on because of the faltering economy. As the economy slowly improves, it's important that companies and employees come to a salary agreement that benefits all parties – the company hires an incredible employee with skills who will grow their business and the employee receives a fair wage for his or her work and experience.