Your next job offer and compensation package you receive will depend on how well you know what your time and talent are worth and how prepared you are to convince a prospective employer of the same. An employer is not obligated to pay you top dollar, even if your experience and training warrant it. You need to be prepared to ask for what you expect and have a mastery of the facts to back your price tag.
Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you begin to interview:
•“Am I interested in making a career change because I am dissatisfied with my present job, or do I want to change jobs to make more money?”
•“If I am dissatisfied with my job, would I consider making a career move to a better job for the same money or possibly a little less?”
•“Do I know what the going rate is for people with my experience and education?”
•“Do I know what the present demand is for someone with my experience and education?”
Recruiters and employers don’t like to court candidates who can’t answer these questions. They will not allow an excellent candidate to proceed in the interviewing process if they believe that the candidate is not open to receiving an offer. Doubt and confusion on these issues could cause you to lose out on the opportunity of a lifetime. Be prepared.
Compensation has two parts: Salary, which includes bonuses and benefits.
Here are three numbers you need to know before you negotiate your salary:
1. How much did you make last year? Look at the past 12 months of income and bonus. Include the bonus because it is deferred income.
2.Research what the market is paying for someone with your skills by using salary comparison sites like Salary.com.
3. Look at your finances and determine what you need to pay your bills on an annual basis. This number you never share with anyone.
These three numbers provide the basis for negotiating your salary.
•What you made tells you and a potential employer how your current employer values your skills and contribution to their business.
•What the market will pay provides a reality check of whether your current salary is reasonable. If your current salary is higher, you need to justify why, if your goal is to get an increase. Otherwise, you will likely have to settle for less.
•What you need to pay your bills is a number that you must always have in mind. You cannot accept anything less than this number.
Once you know these three numbers, you are prepared to discuss your salary.
Do an inventory of your current benefits, including but not limited to: major medical, dental, life insurance, disability insurance, 401k, education, vacation or paid time (PTO), and bonus.
When an offer comes, you will be prepared to discuss the importance of each of the benefits you seek based on what you have today and their significance to you.
Many people undervalue their vacation or PTO. If you presently get four weeks of PTO, why should you accept two weeks just because that is what the new employer offers? If you do not ask for consideration for your years of experience, you will get none.
If you know what your time and skills are worth to a prospective employer, you will be in a much better position to begin interviewing. Negotiating is not a matter of getting the better of the person you are negotiating with but instead informing your counterpart on precisely what you need, what you deserve, and being able to justify what you want.
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