Get Paid What You’re Worth, Salary Negotiation

Here’s an email I received from a reader concerned that he won’t get paid what he’s worth:

Hey Ron, you write alot on jobs, interviewing and careers, I was wondering if you had any advice for me. Ive received job offers from 2 different companies. I would love to go to work for either of them but I cant go to work for both! Do you have any ideas on the things I should think about or should I pit one against another to see what added benefits I can get? I don’t want to have any hard feelings when I start, but I do want to be sure I get paid what I’m worth. Thanks for answering this. I know your busy. -Gary

Congratulations on TWO job offers! You obviously were prepared for those interviews. There are a lot of things you should consider, not the least of which is your personal “fit” within the two organizations, but here is a list of 12 things that you might want to think about and possibly negotiate in your favor:

The first secret to getting paid what you’re worth is to let the employer say a number first.

1. Base Salary. In addition to your base salary, consider raises, bonuses and stock options. Do you get an annual raise? What has been the historical precedent? If raises are the norm, is there a formal performance review? What are the criteria for a raise? What is the average raise? Is it based on inflation or on the performance of the company/division/department? What control do YOU have when it comes to your raise?

2. Bonus. Is the bonus based on individual performance or the company’s profitability? How (exactly) is it decided? What are all the factors that go into a bonus computation? When are bonuses awarded? Are you required to take it in cash (which boosts your taxable income) or can you take additional stock? Can the bonus be deferred? Can it be advanced? If you cannot get straight answers, I would suggest that you keep looking. Remember that recognition IS NOT better than rewards.

3. Stock Options. What’s the strike price for your stock options? What’s the class of stock offered? How long must you hold it before you can consider selling?

4. Retirement. Check your prospective employer’s retirement program and the maximum employer match. Rolling over your existing retirement-savings program to a new employer is relatively routine and easily handled after you start your new job. What is the vesting schedule?

The second secret to getting paid what you’re worth is to know the upper salary range for the position.

5. Vacation. Ask how much vacation you’ll have, if you can take a vacation during your first year and if you can carry vacation time into the next year, especially if you’re planning a dream trip. If you already have something planned, make sure you notify your prospective employer early and get any promises in writing.

6. Health Insurance. Check the insurance carrier, the co-payment and how much it will cost to add your family to your policy. Chances are, your doctor takes the insurance, but double check. Ask about the cost of increased coverage for you and your family, especially if you have a child with special needs. Ask about vision and dental coverage as well as corrective lenses and fillings. Ask about long and short term disability coverage while you’re at it.

7. Club memberships. Inquire if they have an on-site gym, and if they offer discounts or a reimbursement program if you join a local health club. Is the company a member of a country club, golf club, tennis club, or vacation club? Can you get a piece of that action?

8. Company Cars and Vehicles and Assets. If you have the use of a company car, nail down if it’s available for personal use after hours and on weekends. If you can use the vehicle for personal use, is insurance pro-rated? Are there other company vehicles that you could use if the need arose? Some companies have aircraft–could you “hop” a ride if the plane were to be going where you planned to vacation? You never know unless you ask. Does the company own a vacation condo that’s used for clients (and usually other executives)? What about sporting event tickets?

The third secret to getting paid what you’re worth is to know when you’ve maxed out in the negotiations.

9. Other benefits. Do you get a company-issued cell phone, PDA or laptop? Will you have access to a secretarial pool? What about retirement and financial planning services? Some firms offer other services such as travel planning, If you will be traveling a lot, who gets the hotel points and frequent flier miles, you or the firm?

10. Relocation. Be sure to consider the cost of living in your new city or state. Factor in the cost of housing, heating, cooling, crime rates, state taxes, local taxes, and how much you’ll spend traveling back to see family and friends. If your kids will attend private schools, include tuition and expenses.

11. Intangibles. Don’t overlook corporate culture and personal “fit.” Learn as much as you can about the company, its traditions, and your co-workers. If your prospective boss came off as a lunatic or a back-stabber during the interview, a sudden outbreak of sanity or leadership spirit by your start date is questionable.

12. Gut Check. If everything seems to make sense but that little voice in the back of your head shouts “No!” review your calculations, because you may have missed something. Then ask a basic question: Has your little voice misled you in the past?

The final secret to getting paid what you’re worth is to be willing to ask for more.

One more thing, if you have other interests that occupy a lot of your time, be sure and check with the company’s policies. Can you check personal email on the job? What about that little Ebay business you’re running? It’s better to get everything out in the open on the front end than to get surprised in 6 months…and have to start the process all over again.

One book I highly recommend is Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator by Roger Dawson. Learn how to negotiate your salary the professional way that gets results.


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