3 minute read

Slippery Salary Slopes

Ask And You Shall Receive More Salary

Job Seeker's Story

After graduating with her Master's degree, Carolyn interviewed with a large telecommunications company and accepted the position at the time of the offer. During her first year she worked extremely hard and made numerous outstanding contributions to the company, some of which even resulted in awards and accolades. In fact, not a day went by that her boss was not praising her and her customers were not thanking her.

When she came up for her one-year review, her boss proudly told her she received the company's largest increase that year (67 cents an hour). Carolyn was very disappointed, but this was only the beginning. Later, during a coffee break, when she discussed the matter of raises with a co-worker, she learned that the last person in her role had started at $15,000 more annually than she had. She calculated that at an average raise of 67 cents per year it would take her more than 10 years just to get to where her predecessor started, and that she would lose more than $150,000 in salary she could have earned over those years.

Not one to give up, Carolyn approached her boss to learn more about opportunities to move up with the company, assuming she could increase her salary in that manner. She left the meeting deflated after learning that it was company policy to never exceed a 3-percent salary increase for any internal company promotion. She now realized that, even if she promoted out of the job she loved, she would always be behind the curve on company salaries.

Job Seeker's Stumble

Carolyn thought that if she worked hard she would be rewarded. However, because she did not negotiate up front, she would either have to seek promotions or leave the company to increase her salary significantly. In fact, she would have more of a chance of increasing her salary with this firm by leaving and later reapplying and negotiating the second time around.

Job Seeker's New Strategy

Never make the mistake of accepting the first salary offer that you receive. In fact, it has been said that, if the job seeker says the dollar amount first, it is the ceiling (or the highest offer you will receive), and, if the employer says the dollar amount first, it is the floor (or the lowest offer you will receive).

When you receive an offer, thank the employer, ask if there are other elements to consider (such as perks, benefits, and/or bonuses), and then ask for time to consider the offer. It is not unreasonable to ask for up to a week to consider the offer.

When you again meet with the employer, tell him that you have thought it over, that you greatly appreciate the offer, and would like to know if the base salary is negotiable. Always start with the base. Don't expend the initial, valuable energy on negotiating benefits yet. Consider these two outcomes of asking if the position is negotiable:

Example A

Employer: “I'm sorry, but $33,000 is the highest we have allotted for that position.

Job Seeker: “I can understand that, but what if you were to put me under another title in a position, where I could both serve these needs as well as some of the additional areas I am skilled in?” Be specific or talk about a project/goal. Focus on redirecting the job description to put it in a higher salary bracket.

Example B

Job Seeker: “I truly appreciate the offer but was wondering if it is negotiable.

Employer: “What did you have in mind?

Job Seeker: “Well, I'm still flexible, but I was hoping that you might make a higher offer based on the value (skills, etc.) that I am offering you. Is that possible?

Employer: “That's usually our standing offer for this position.” or “The most I can offer you is $38,000.

Obviously, with the first answer, you will have to sell yourself into another bracket. In Example B, you have to tread lightly. Is this a situation where you have to jump to Example A, or are you happy with $38,000? If you are okay with $38,000 but would like a little more, perhaps you should now talk about other options, such as mileage reimbursement or increased vacation time.

Sometimes you just have to walk away; don't beat yourself up if you can't get a reasonable offer. It happens. Conversely, more often than not you can increase your salary by $15,000 or more just by asking if the offer is negotiable.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsSlippery Salary Slopes - Keep Your Salary Expectations Current, Ask And You Shall Receive More Salary, Avoid Locking Yourself In To A Low Salary