The interview process is usually a grind; not uncommon for an interview process to take several weeks or even a few months. Of course, it is more worthwhile when it results in a job offer; especially, when it is one of your top choices. The process should never stop with an initial conversation regarding cash compensation. Too many people lack confidence or feel they lack the skills to negotiate and improve their financial starting position at their new firm. Ultimately, pay (we like to call them “hard dollars”) is a key factor in accepting any new position. Most companies are prepared and frankly expect you to discuss.
As you prepare to receive that next job offer, be sure to consider and apply these 5 success tips.
#1 – Do Your Research
Arm yourself with information prior to the first interview. Find the most current data around your position: average salary and typical salary ranges for similar industries. Obviously, you must factor in geography. The average salary of a Director or Vice President in New York will not be useful when interviewing for the same position in Atlanta or Dallas.
Once you better understand the salary range of your targeted position, now you should attempt to clarify all of the varied responsibilities, tasks, and expectations of the job as you interview. Each person will have some insights on the intricacies of the position. Additionally, you need to ask how the company handles employee reviews, promotions, pay raises and bonus plans.
#2 – Benefits Matter
Benefits translate into bottom-line money; they are often ignored as many candidates focus primarily on the base salary, bonus and long-term incentives (LTCI. We believe that benefits should be weighed carefully as part of an overall compensation package. If you are joining a company that lacks the same caliber benefits as your current employer, you have to consider negotiating your base higher to make up for the increase in insurance premiums, lost vacation days, and/or lost earnings on net 401K potential (% match, management fee, etc).
#3 – Know Your Strengths
Do your industry research; ensure you bring something valuable to the table with this position. Proactively explain how you will provide value in this new role. Emphasize your unique skills, applicable experience or differentiating characteristics that will help you stand out from the competition. Highlight your track record of high performance at an executive level to demonstrate your proven abilities.
#4 – Understand Timing
Salary negotiation usually starts early in the interview process; it may even be one of the first questions asked by the potential employer. You should not reveal your desired salary early in the interview process. The best approach is to confirm your sincere interest in the position. We encourage you to hold off on specific numbers until further into this comprehensive process. If pushed, then commit to a range only; the bottom end should be your salary minimum in order to accept the offer with a smile on your face!
Prior to the earliest interview, you want to establish a minimum salary amount that is acceptable to you. Put some real thought into the reasons why you cannot accept less than this specific amount. This gives you a “walk away” point to keep in mind as you complete the interview process. These can be talking points during the negotiation if the initial offer is less than you were expecting.
#5 – A Written Job Offer
Obtain the written offer, including any bonus, benefit costs and LTI information. This eliminates any potential misunderstandings and allows you to seek clarification before committing by signing on the dotted line.
Unfortunately, too many people fail to negotiate their salaries. In fact, less than 40% of employees do, according to a recent study by Robert Half International. Remember: employers are facing talent shortages and employees are in the very best position ever to bargain for fair earnings. Do not leave money on the table when you have the opportunity to negotiate upward. Money left behind today will be left behind for years to come!