Salary, Negotiation and Financial Matters

Applying, interviewing, and accepting an offer can be an exciting time in one's life.  The job search process has many aspects in which one should consider when beginning the process.  Finding a position is only part of the process; salary, negotiation, benefits, and other financial matters are additional pieces that should be carefully considered.

Before Interviewing

Before beginning the interviewing process, it is important that you conduct research revolving around salary.  Being prepared to answer questions regarding salary is an extremely helpful tactic during the application and interviewing process.  Preparation will additionally help you feel comfortable and confident when salary questions arise.

Research the Industry Salary Range

Salary range can vary depending on factors such as the industry you are pursuing, the company's geographic location, level of position you are applying for, level of education you've obtained, and the amount of experience you bring to the potential position/company, just to name a few.

Know Your Worth

When considering your professional worth, factors such as, your level of education, your unique skills, your previous experiences, and desired geographical location can aid you in generating a more ideal salary range.

Research the Company's Salary Range

If a company's salary information is obtainable, gather information on the reported salary ranges for specific positions you're considering.

Resources:

  • Salary (http://www.salary.com/category/salary/) allows you to enter in your desired job title, level of education obtained and years of experience as factors to provide you with an individualized “projected salary range.”
  • Glassdoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm) allows you to enter in either a job title, or company, and desired geographical location as factors to provide you with the national and geographically specific estimated salary range.
  • NACE Salary Calculator and Salary Data Center (https://www.jobsearchintelligence.com/salary-calculator-intro-etc) allows you to enter in an occupation title, desired state, desired region, years of relevant experience, and details about your educational experience as factors to provide you with an individualized estimated salary.  

As you are conducting research on salaries, be sure to keep your own personal financial obligations in mind.  A salary is not simply a number tied to what you want to earn, it is also tied to what you need to earn in order to live comfortably.  The cost of living can include factors such as geographical location, housing, household utilities, food, transportation, parking, insurance, loans, memberships, medical expenses, and taxes, just to name a few.

If you are considering moving from one state to another, The CNN Money Calculator (http://money.cnn.com/calculator/pf/cost-of-living/) is a helpful tool for comparing salary and cost of living differences.      

When Questions of Salary Arise

After you've conducted your salary research, and have begun the application process, questions of salary will begin to arise.  Some employers will ask potential candidates about their salary history and/or their expected salary for the position in which they are applying for on the job application.  Some employers will ask candidates about their salary history and/or their expected salary during the interviewing process.  Do note, it is not a requirement for you to provide the employer with your previous salary history or expected salary; it is completely up to you whether you want to disclose that information or not.

With the competitiveness of some industries being fairly high, and recruiters having limited time, some companies have now begun to list their salary range for positions right on the job description, others will inform candidates of their max salary range during initial interviews.  This tactic is utilized to be up front with candidates and decrease the potential candidate pool.  Some companies are unwilling to interview candidates who have salary expectations higher than their maximum salary range.

Keep in mind that during the interviewing process, it is not your responsibility to bring up salary.  Salary is best discussed/negotiated after an offer is made.

Once an Offer is Made

Once the interviewing process has been completed and an offer has been made, if needed, you can ask for a few days to think about the offer and whether you want to accept it or not.  Employers who are truly interested in you should be willing to give you a few days to upwards of a week to get back to them.  Additionally, it is good practice to request your official offer in writing as a written offer may contain details that weren't mentioned over the phone, even if you're 100% sure you want to accept the offer.

Once you have the official written offer in hand, look over all the details, salary, benefits, etc.  After looking over the details, revisit your salary research and personal financial obligations.  If you are 100% satisfied with the offer, call the employer as soon as possible to verbally accept the offer.  If you are not satisfied with the offer, you can consider negotiating for a better offer. 

Negotiation

Negotiation is your decision and only takes place if you decide to pursue it.  Even if you are interviewing for your first position out of college, negotiation is still a possibility.  Utilize your salary research, personal financial obligations, skill set, and previous experience as your guide to negotiating a better offer.  You will additionally need to have a reason(s) prepared to share with the employer as to why you are desiring a better offer.  Once you have determined your desired offer, contact the employer as soon as possible to begin the conversation.  The negotiation process will more than likely take place with the person in who extended the offer to your originally or with the company's Human Resources department. 

Keep in mind while negotiating, that salary is only one possible piece of a negotiation.  In factoring your total compensation, you can consider salary, insurance, vacation time, flexibility of schedule, and extra perks (bonuses, commission, retirement contributions, stocks, parking, gym memberships, travel expenses, continuing education coverage, etc.).  One-time expenses can possibly be easier for employers to handle than an annual salary increase. If you are moving from one state to another, you may consider asking the employer for moving expense assistance. 

If you decide you would like to negotiate, keep in mind that it is only when both the candidate and the employer have come to an agreement on the offer that one can begin working for the company.  With that in mind, you don't want to drag out the negotiation process for too long. 

Once You've Accepted an Offer

Once you've accepted a company's offer, it is considered unethical to continue interviewing for other positions.  It is additionally unethical to accept an offer from an employer and then later retract your acceptance because a more attractive position materializes.  Retracting an acceptance of an offer reflects poorly on you, and though rare, could potentially lead to legal action as you are breaking a contract, whether written or verbal. 

Multiple Interviews, Multiple Offers

You may be applying to multiple positions and as such may be interviewing with multiple companies during the same time period.  You may receive an offer from one employer as you await an offer from, or an interview with another.  If this happens to be the case, request a few days – from the initial employer – to think about the offer and whether you want to accept it or pursue other potential interviews and/or offers. 

You may also want to contact any other companies you are awaiting offers from – those you've already interviewed with – and inform them that another company has made you an offer but before deciding you would like to know your status.  Don't push too hard or the employer may lose interest.

Declining an Offer

If it is that you decide to decline a company's offer for employment, send them a typed letter declining the offer as soon as possible. Within your letter, indicate why you are declining, if you can do so tactfully and constructively.  Sending a polite and well-written rejection letter can aid in maintaining a good relationship with that employer.

Please Note: Each person's individual life circumstances can influence what a salary range and negotiation looks like.  Considering your professional worth, your personal budget and financial obligations, as well as your desire to work for the company you are interviewing with, this process can sometimes be cumbersome.  If you have questions or concerns about salary determination or negotiation, please schedule a career counseling appointment.