Negotiating your Salary and Benefits Packages

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When you get your first job offer, how will you know if the salary is reasonable? The first thing you need to do before you enter the job market, whether it’s your first job fresh out of college or a new step into a career path, you need to research what the going rate or salary is in your area that also matches your education and skills.

When it comes to negotiating salary and benefits, most of it just boils down to knowing how much you’re worth in the marketplace. You need to identify which benefits are important to you and associate these benefits with a price tag offered by the employer so that you can evaluate the real value of the offer. The total compensation encompasses much more than just a salary, but also benefits and bonuses such as relocation package and signing bonuses.

When negotiating with your prospective employers, you need to find out what benefits and bonuses the company offers to employees in the position that you’re applying for, what the average pay increase is, and what benefits might be added later.

As far as when to discuss salary negotiations, you should delay any questions or requests until you’re well into the interviewing process and you also want to avoid telling your interviewers how much you currently make. You shouldn’t be thrown into a salary range that’s lower than your current going rates just because you were underpaid at your previous job, and discussing your salary too early in the game can take you out of the running if your current salary is too high. The main goal here is to have enough time interacting with the managers and interviewers to have a chance to “sell yourself” and to convince them why you’re the right person for the job before going into discussion about salary.

Keep in mind, the objective of them asking your current salary or the salary you’re looking for is generally to pay you as little as possible. Employers, for the most part, will always offer less than what they can afford. So the general rule of thumb is this, whatever the offer, always ask for 12%-15% more than what they give you. The reason for this is because when they put together your initial offer, they compose the letter assuming that you will ask for an increase. The employer usually allocates 15% higher than the initial offer for their budget on you, so if you don’t ask for the increase, then the company is more than happy to give you your base pay since they were able to reel you in with their minimum offer. When asking for the 12-15% increase, you might not always get the exact 12-15% but any increase is better than nothing. In the worse case scenario, they say no and that’s it. They’re not going to retract their offer because you asked for an increase, it can’t hurt to ask.

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