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Salary Negotiation Tips?


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Hey guys,

I have a potential dilemma. Let me stress potential, as no offers have been made.


I'm on the job market and have been solicited by 3 separate firms to possibly interview. One of them is my previous employer. The Sr. VP of one of the regions emailed me yesterday saying they need a project manager with extensive contracts management experience for one of the company's most politically sensitive contracts. The SVP didn't actually go into detail, but my friend at the company told me which project this was (it was just getting started when I left the company and I remember the headache-level and attention it got from the senior staff was much greater than the company's other projects). They recruited internally and couldn't find anyone with the right quals who wanted the job, so they've solicited me.


Here's my dilemma: my current position is far less advanced skill-wise than this potential opportunity (I took the job for flexibility in pursuing other things which I'm no longer pursuing, in recognition that it was below my skill level) and the risk-management concerns involved in my current position are much less than this new position would be undertaking. However, it looks like if they make an offer it will be about equivalent to my current salary, based on the company's internal payscale. Given the increased responsibility and sensitivity, I think I should negotiate at least a 20% increase in salary. HOWEVER, when it comes to the US government, salary is also subject to the sector you're working in. The international development payscale is not as high as the health sector I'm currently working in. I'm afraid they'll scoff at my request.


Does anyone have any good negotiation tactics that I could use? And when do you know that a counteroffer is one you should take? Should you ever accept lower than what you require? Doesn't that make you appear to be a pushover?


Additionally, there's another potential opportunity that sounds equally good (except for the commute) and I know their proposed salary range is what I'm looking for. Difference is, I know what I am getting with my old company whereas I have no clue if what I see in this new company is just promises to get potential employees hooked in.


Thoughts? I tend to be a people-pleaser who will compromise far too easily, so I can see myself just giving in because I REALLY want the job.

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First, determine if your company pays people "outside" of their salary grades. For example, in the government, often you will see a grade level and sometimes those are not negotiable. so keep that in mind. Even still, I always think it's best to try and negotiate. In fact, maybe getting more vacation time or better health benefits can be ok if they can't offer salary. There is always a way to negotiate something extra if they want you.


Don't discuss salary until after you've been hired. If they offer you the same, let them know that you are while you really desire this position, it would be very difficult for you to accept a position at the same level of salary you are currently receiving.


But more importantly, highlight how you will be adding more skills to the new position as it is an advanced position.


If they at first say no, we cannot offer you more. Say "thank you, I understand and I was wondering if there is any room for negotiating other benefits? If they are agreeable and like you, they will ask you to come in and sit down to discuss other things...If not, then say, I have some other opportunities that I'm currently reviewing and can I get back to you in a week?"...this might make them think...I think 15% is a reasonable increase in salary. i think asking 20% in int'l development is too high, unless you are asking for 20% to get 15%.


Unfortunately, int'l development like non-profit, sometimes there isn't much room for negotiation, unless you are at higher levels. i'm not sure where you are on that scale, but it there is NEVER harm to negotiation.


If they don't work with you, I still might consider the position, based on experience, atmosphere and any other benefits that will increase your happiness. But at this point in my career, i would hate to move positions for the same salary.

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Don't be stupid. There are many others that would take the job out there. This is why we have outsourcing


I don't see it as being stupid. I see it as making sure that I protect myself and am paid what the demands of the job require. It's business and negotiating salary is part of it. I'd appreciate a bit more constructive feedback than what this post provides. Thanks.

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What I'd request still falls well within the grade range, so that's not a concern. I agree that 15% is more reasonable. I guess I'm looking at what this other company may provide and basing it on that.


As for where I fall on the scale, I'm experienced mid-level. In a way I feel I have the upperhand since they've exhausted their internal resources and have now sought me out based on internal recommendations.


Thanks for your input!

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I currently work in fundraising/university. My position offered me $10k more than my previous job. I did just what i told you, asked for $15k and they said, sorry it is not negotiable. I asked again and explained what new things I would bring to the position and that the responsibilities were worth X salary compared t other indivudals with the same position. I also added the fact that my current position inc. health insurance while they did not and that was another $2,500 per year. (this was after I was offered a position).


again, they told me that $10k more was the final offer. I told them that I am very excited about the position and really hope to work with them, but that I was still looking at other opp. and could I get back to them in a week. they said, how about a few days...I said ok.


They called me an hour later offering me the $15k more and I took the job on the spot.


You have to go after what you want or you will never get it. Also, keep it light and positive and enthusiastic though, without sounding demanding. and express how much you really would love the position at X salary. They will look at you favorably for asking, it shows determination. If they don't offer it, then you can evaluate the total package thereafter and make a decision based on that. plus you will look in demand and not like a pushover accepting whatever comes your way.


negotiation is an art. they sought "you" out, so you certainly have the upper-hand in this one. since you are mid-level and have some exp. and already worked for the co. you can certainly ask in the higher pay grade range.

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and I might add, they will not rescind a job offer if you try to negotiate. they expect it for people in mid-level positions. in an entry-level, (no real room to negotiate), but you have other options and a current job, so you aren't desperate.


and also, yes the economy isn't great right now, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't get your salary or at least somewhere in the middle-a tleast 10% more...anything. ask for 20%, hope to get b/w 10-15%.


good luck. let us know how it goes.

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I'm in IT, so salaries are fairly standard for particular positions since, honestly, employers perceive the more entry-level talent pool as oversaturated and can rationalize their salary offer with "oh, if you won't take it, 100 other people would line up to." Of course, you can just walk away, but it really depends what your situation is.


I didn't really need to negotiate for my current position, because it was right what I was looking for, though in retrospect, I kinda wish I had. I make more than enough, but you can never really have "enough." And promptly when I got home from my interview for the current job, which was my first interview and at which I was offered and subsequently accepted the job, I received a phone call from another company offering about $15k more than I now make. Ouch!


I'd negotiate, and negotiate hard. In my opinion, the talent market for mid+ level positions for a given position is usually pretty small, such that if you properly market yourself you'll be in business.


If it's a gov't contractor, like sweetharmony said, they'll probably be salary grades that they really don't exceed, as a policy. But sometimes the experience, exposure, and connections you get at a particular position far outweigh the superficial dollars and cents amount. I am very, very happy with my current income because I know I can take it anywhere (I'm getting my degree, though, and perhaps going into law, so this is just hypothetical) and make ~ $15-20k more at the drop of a hat... with a more prestigious and fun company.


Just curious, what did you do to get to the experienced mid-level at 26? That's very impressive. You must have graduated college only a few years ago?

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Sheer luck, lol! Actually, this company that is now asking me to discuss this position (I'll call them Co. #1) was my first office job out of college, about 4 years ago. After a year in a fairly administrative position, I moved into the Contracts Division's Compliance Dept. (because I was bored with what I was doing and thought Contracts sounded interesting). I was pretty much thrown into the deep end of the pool (though I had great mentorship from the senior folks) to start advising/training project managers in contractual and regulatory analysis (I knew NOTHING about such things on Day 1). Needless to say, when someone is depending on you for an answer, you need to find it quickly and make sure it's the right answer. Plus, it was a very autonomous position, so that combined with the demands required me to very quickly learn the business and become familiar with government regulations and corporate policy, and to make the company's financial safety top priority.


I stayed in that position for a little under 2 years (just under 3 years at the company) and then left to find something more flexible that would allow me to pursue theatre. I took a contracts administrator position for a few months (at Co. #2), and then when I decided I missed the previous industry (and was willing to put theatre on the side and focus on "career"), I took a job with Co. #1's biggest competitor (Co. #3). It was at this point that I realized that the skills I'd learned at Co. #1 were so valuable. Being at Co. #3 and seeing administrators with 10+ years experience not knowing what seemed to me the most basic rules of the game made me realize how much I'd learned at Co. #1, and what I had to offer. I didn't stay long there and came back to Co. #2 (still here). So, seeing what I saw at Co. #3 made me realize that I'd learned more in 2 years than many contract administrators learn in 10. So, I really credit Co. #1 with giving me these skills (that they're now asking I use for them). And, I have to credit my ex-ex with getting me the initial job. He was working at Co. #1 in software engineering and gave my resume to the woman who hired me. He's really the one who got the ball rolling for me!


As for the salary range at Co. #1, the ceiling of the grade level I'd be at is about $13-$18K higher what I'm looking for, so I don't feel I'm asking TOO much. I'm really more at the mid-lower end of the range.

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That's awesome. Guess a lot of life is being in the right place at the right time--but being really good at what you do is also critical, and it sounds like you have it down. Best of luck to you in these negotiations and in your new job. I'm sure the negotiating part can be pretty stressful, but afterwards you're probably just happy you didn't cave in and stood your [justified] ground.

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Interview with everyone. Always consider all offers, then negotiate from there.


Companies will frequently match offers from other companies if you have a firm offer and an offer letter. So try to get offers from all three, then start with the company you like best, and show them the highest offer and ask that they match it.


It is possible to get a 20% increase, but not always probable, unless you were underpaid for what you did before, or have a special skill or the job market is tight and they can't find a suitable candidate. Lots of companies now have salary range guidelines where they can't hire you at the top of the range or above it for the particular position.


But they have other means of compensation, such as a sign on bonus.


But don't neglect other factors such as which job takes you in the direction you want to go? personally i see a job as a better opportunity if it is a promotion rather than a lateral move, even if the promotion position pays the same or a bit less than the lateral job at a different company. you have to look at future career potential, not just salary.


Other factors are high too, such as the company itself, the entire benefit package, vacation, 401k, etc. So look at all the benefits in total, and go from there.


It is also wiser to take a better company over a company that is not stable, or not as good a reputation etc. so make sure to look at the other factors weighted as heavily as money, because in the end they can be as or more important than salary.

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You make really good points and I've definitely given thought to those, as well. It's not all about the money, just more making sure I'm paid at market rate.


The company that contacted me to possibly come back is a great company. I loved it there and left with no hard feelings whatsoever and have actually been telling my former colleagues how much I'd like to return. That still holds true. I also know how I want to proceed within the company and can see how this position would give me an upperhand in future opportunities. So I'm keeping that in mind.


This other company that I will be interviewing with is possibly one of the largest companies in the world and appear to offer the most fabulous benefits I've ever heard of. They also sound like they have a good corporate culture (probably the most important factor to consider). The thing is, since I haven't worked there I won't know for sure if I'll like it, whereas I know I'll feel right at home returning to my old company.


I guess there's no point in analyzing those things just yet. I'll see how things pan out over the next couple weeks. If my old company can't match the other company's offer, it still doesn't mean I won't take it, but it should be within about $5K of the other offer, I think. Luckily, while working there I saw some salary negotiations going on and they will usually fold if they really want the person and don't have other prospects. We'll see...

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