Career Management

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Phase 4, Step 15 - Talk With Hiring Managers

At some point in the interviewing process, the employer will ask you about your salary expectations if the amount is not already posted on the job posting. It is essential to be prepared with a range or an appropriate number due to your research. If you state an amount that is too high, it can hurt your chances of getting the job. Too low and your stuck.

 Be prepared to negotiate salary. When you do not prepare for the salary negotiation step and you are asked what salary you want, invariably, you may oversell or undersell yourself. Overselling, or giving too high of a number, means you did not do your salary research. Chances are you may not get an offer because the company cannot afford you. Underselling means you will be stuck with a job that pays you less than you deserve. You may love the job, but you may also be resentful for not being paid enough. NOTE: There is not much negotiation for internships – this applies more to your actual job search.  

Deliverable for GSM1508: Research average salary and benefits for the specific job functions, industries, and titles in which you are interested.  Write a summary analysis of your findings and of your expected salary/benefits and share with your Career Coach.

Questions to ask yourself:
1.    What is the lowest mix of salary and benefits you would take if everything else in the job was ideal? Think salary, bonuses, and a wide range of benefit possibilities.
2.    What salary is normal in this industry and for this job? Check salary.com for averages, but also check out Willamette’s averages and ask during your informationals. Ask, “What kind of salary range do you think someone with my background and experience might expect in this field?”

Going Deeper:
•    Research salaries for the position for which you are applying. Be prepared for the question about what salary you want. If at all possible, have them state a number first – think ‘hot potato’. “Wow, I’m really excited about this job, but it all depends on the mix of compensation and benefits, what range did you have in mind?” Ideally, you shouldn’t discuss salary until you’ve received the offer. Any other time during the interview process, the hiring manager has the leverage.
•    Should the offer come in lower than expected, but you want the job, ask about the benefits that are in the mix. There are many benefit possibilities that may have a monetary value to you that may make a lower base salary number attractive to you. For example, starting bonuses, tuition reimbursements, free parking, bus passes, flexible hours, ability to work from home, per diems, full health coverage for your family etc.
•    Try to get a full picture of what all is on the table before you negotiate. For example, suppose you really want $60,000 but they offer a $55, 000 base with a $10,000 starting bonus, $2000 moving expenses and family health care – it may be a very fair offer –
•    Don’t get stuck on the base number. Consider also the fairness issue among other employees. Often there is a range that the employer can negotiate within, but the bonuses might come out of another line item. Finally, keep it conversational; try ‘is that negotiable?” rather than, “I need $60,000” – remember you have to work with this person for presumably a long time. If in doubt, sleep on it – ask, “When do you need an answer? “ Most employers will give you at least a few days to consider. Then, call your Career Coach – who can help talk you through the negotiations.
•    Decide if this is your dream job. If it is, never walk away because they are not able to pay what you had hoped for. Anyone can adjust their budget in the short-term. Ask them about a salary review after you’ve proven yourself.  Most importantly, don’t accept on the spot – ask for a few days to think about and be sure of your answer. Check with your Career Coach for advice.


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