Tips for Salary Negotiations in the US



The salary topic may come up at any time during your job application process. It can be as soon as when you fill out the application form, before you are offered an interview, in the middle of an interview, or even as late as after you get the job offer.

Anytime the topic comes up, you should be ready with an answer. Therefore, in this section, we are trying to provide some tips on dealing with salary negotiation.


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  Salary Negotiations




How to find out about the salary range for the job that I applied for?

Is the Salary Offered Good Enough for Me?

What if I am not happy with the salary offered by the company?

Some Tips on Salary Negotiation

 

How to find out about the salary range for the job that I applied for?

Below are some important factors that determine your salary:

  • The type of job that you will be doing
  • The company’s well being
  • The geographical area where the job is located
  • Your degree, skill, and experience
  • The school where you graduated from
  • Overall macro economic condition

Below are some websites that provide information on the salary range for a particular job. Other than from these sites, you can also ask your friends and family about the typical salary for a particular job.

Salary.com provides free information about salaries by job tittle and location

JobStar.org provides free links to salary information on certain job or profession

SalaryExpert.com provides salary information for the U.S. and other countries

You can also find the information about salary range in the geographical area where the job is located from those websites.

To find out about the salary range for alumni from your university, ask your career center the salary range for students graduated from your university for a particular job.
After you find the range, you can do some research on the company, including the company’s size, profitability, and the urgency of the company to fill the job. The bigger and the more profitable the company, the more likely you will get a better salary, especially if the company needs somebody to fill the job quickly. However, you should also look at your skills, your experience, and the importance of your job in the company. These factors determine your value in the market, and the more valuable you are in the market, the better of your position in negotiating your salary. This Occupational outlook handbook can help you to compare your experience and skill with the average skills available in the market for a particular job in a particular area.

Another important factor that you should not forget is the overall macro economic condition. When the economy is slow and the unemployment rate is high, you have less bargaining power for a higher salary.

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Is the Salary Offered Good Enough for Me?

In most cases, your salary will be your only source of income. Thus, to see if your salary is good enough for you, you should estimate your expenses such as:

    • Accommodation (rent, mortgage)
    • Transportation (bus, train, car payment)
    • Food
    • Insurance
    • Paying off student loan
    • Entertainment, etc

Other than that, you might want to set some percentage of your salary that will go to your investments (stock, bond), pension plan (401k), and your saving account.

Compare those expenses with the potential salary that you will get, and see if you are satisfied with that.

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What if I am not happy with the salary offered by the company?

If the interviewer or the company’s representative tells you the salary offered in the beginning of the hiring process (interview), and you are not too happy with that, but you like the job, try to avoid this topic by saying politely that salary is negotiable for you, and that you want to know if the company is interested in your skills and experience before you start talking about the salary.

If the salary topic comes up after you get the job offer, and you are not happy with the salary offered, try to negotiate with the company’s representative. The company would expect a negotiation, because salary negotiation is a common practice. You should not hesitate to do that, especially if you notice that the company wants you. Don’t forget to do it politely.

If the company does not want to increase your salary, find out about benefits and bonuses that you will get by working in that company, such as:

    • Signing bonus
    • Relocation
    • Insurance (health, dental, vision, accidental, life)
    • Pension plan (401k)
    • Stock option
    • Tuition reimbursement
    • Parking (commuting) reimbursement
    • Health club
    • Paid Time Off (PTO), paid holidays, sick days allowance
    • Training

Also find out about possibility of getting a yearly bonus or the future salary progression.

If after you add the benefits and bonuses you are satisfied, that’s good. If not, you might need to consider if you want to take the job.

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Some Tips on Salary Negotiation

  • Do some researches on the salary range of your profession to be in your geographic area.
  • Try to avoid the salary topic including salary negotiation until you get the job offer. Before you get a job offer, you really don’t know if the company is interested to hire you. Therefore, you are not in the position to negotiate a salary.
  • If you are asked about your desired salary in the beginning of the hiring process, if possible try to delay the discussion until you get the job offer.
  • If you can not avoid the salary discussion before you get the job offer, instead of immediately telling them your desired salary, politely ask back their salary range for the job.
  • If the company insists that you tell your salary range. Tell your desired salary (based on your research). Put it in a range basis instead of a single number. Don’t forget to say that your salary is negotiable.
  • If the company offers you a particular salary after it gives you the job offer, do not immediately give an answer. Ask them politely if you can have some time to think about it. It is necessary because the fact that you are getting a job might make you too happy that you will accept lower salary than what you supposed to get.

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(Reference: quintcareers.com, 2007)

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