Unit 3: Negotiating Compensation
Discussing salary requirements during the interview can be tricky. Potential employers may ask you for your salary requirements during the initial telephone screening or during later interviews. Prepare for this question by researching what comparable employers pay workers with similar responsibilities and qualifications in your area. Be prepared with a response even if your plan is to avoid giving an exact figure.
Some suggest giving a salary range so you have room to negotiate after you have received a job offer. Others recommend giving one salary amount you would be happy to receive since the employer will likely offer you the lowest figure you give in your range anyway. Still others say you should never be the first to give a figure. Press the employer to give you an offer first, since their number could be higher than what you had anticipated. Then, you can still negotiate for a better compensation package. In this unit we look at salary negotiation in more detail.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 1 hour.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe ways to research salary information for a specific type of job or occupation;
- describe ways to respond to questions about salary expectations; and
- describe several types of compensation other than salary.
3.1: Salary Scenarios and Questions
What are your salary expectations? Most interviewers who are considering hiring you will ask you this question. Your research and preparation will help you give a reply that moves the discussion forward to your advantage. For example, you may be more interested in quality-of-life issues, perks, and benefits than in salary. On the other hand, the salary amount may determine whether you accept or reject an offer. In either case, you should formulate a response that aligns with your strategy for obtaining the position of your choice.
Although this article centers on compensation in the non-profit sector, the questions and answers can apply to any job search. You should understand your personal finances and the typical compensation for jobs in your industry and location.
Review these responses to questions about compensation. You need to decide whether a position opening is still a good fit even if the posted salary is substantially above or below your current range. The author of this article suggests ways to close the gap between your current salary and the position for which you are applying.
3.2: Researching Your Best Salary
Employers do not base their decisions to grant interviews or make job offers on magical thinking. Their decision-making often relies on the research and preparation you, as the candidate, perform. The U.S. Department of Labor is a comprehensive source for salary information. The video that follows offers tips for learning how to negotiate for an hourly wage position.
Use this tool to find salary information for more than 800 different occupations.
Watch this video, in which a dental assistant describes the factors that have played a part in her wage history as an hourly worker. She recommends you ask others who perform similar jobs in various locations about their compensation. She was surprised to learn she could have been making significantly more per hour for the same job if she moved or commuted to a different city.
3.3: Negotiating Job Benefits
When you are negotiating your compensation package, think about what is important to you, since you may be able to negotiate for other benefits in addition to salary.
This resource comes from a textbook written for human resource professionals in the United States. In other words, it was written to help U.S. employers understand some different benefits a compensation package might include (note that any laws it mentions pertain to practices in the United States).
For example, these benefits might include group health insurance, dental insurance and vision plans, disability insurance, life insurance, wellness benefits, flexible spending accounts, retirement and 401K plans, vacation and sick leave, family and medical leave, childcare benefits, and education and tuition stipends.
Your benefits package is often open to negotiation. Take some time to think about whether the benefits your potential employer is offering you are important to you and your family. For example, the ability to participate in a comprehensive health plan may be more important, and perhaps even less expensive, to you and your family than the monthly salary amount being offered.