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Salary negotations

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Salary negotations

Postby P. Lues » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:33 am

Hi all,

I did a miserable job of negotiating my salary during the past 2 job hunts. The first time I didn't even ask, second time i asked for $5000 more due to having more (although not much) experience than job ad, was shot down, and I accepted whatever they were offering. $5000 isn't much and I couldn't even manage that. I know they pay others at my level a lot more and I suspect those people just negotiated better. Hopefully I won't be job hunting anytime soon as I actually like what I do but every two weeks when I get my pay stub, it still hurts (what a waste of paper by the way. We know how much we make you don't have to rub it in!!) I need to know what I did wrong and what I should have done instead.

I need some help with even approaching the subject when you get the first offer. I almost need a script. Please advise from personal experience. I've read the blogs ad nauseam.

P.
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Dave Walker » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:27 am

Hi P Lues,

It sounds like you've been through the ringer a few times. You probably know the score as well as any of us. The good news is that negotiation is a skill that can be taught. (The bad news is that, like job hunting, we only seem to practice it when we already need to have it down.)

If it helps, some thoughts from my personal experience are below.

- Know your worth. Through your network, identify the range a job pays, and I'm not talking about glassdoor.com. Too easy of a crutch. I found second hand experience seemed to work (people will tell you what their friend got paid at a previous job, but not themselves). This will require an excellent network. So that's step 1.

- Know that it's a range, and you must distinguish lowballing from company limits. I know the blogs are trite, but the tried-and-true stuff does work: be willing to walk away, flinch at the number when given, stand up for yourself if you really want it and ask why if you don't get it. Sometimes it's a reflection of what the hiring manager thinks of you. In my experiences, it either feels right or it doesn't, but we're so set on being finished with the game of job hunting we've already committed to this job in our minds. This is one place where a gut feeling should be listened to. And...

- Know that quality-of-life improvements may make up the difference. Can you get an extra week vacation? Can you get a transit/home office/car reimbursement? Career development opportunities or training? These are serious benefits that can easily be worth >$5,000.

- And a tip I learned from Dave Jensen some time ago: if you really can't get what you want, then ask for an expedited performance review, in 6 months (or if you can swing it, 3). If you don't get a raise then, that says a lot about your manager.
"The single factor that differentiates Nobel laureates from other scientists is training with another Nobel laureate." -- Sol Snyder
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Rich Lemert » Thu Apr 16, 2015 8:33 am

I can't really answer your question since I've never been good at salary negotiations myself, but I'd like to address one side comment you made.

Have you ever really looked at your pay stub? There's usually a lot more information there than just your gross pay. Mine would list the gross pay, then itemize any deductions such as income tax withholdings, any stock purchase plan set-asides, social security, retirement contributions, supplemental life insurance, etc. All numbers would be reported both for the current pay period and year-to-date.

You don't necessarily need to go over them with a fine-tooth comb every time you get one, but you should examine them periodically to make sure there are no unexpected surprises.

(My employer also sends out an annual "total compensation" letter that details not only your direct pay, but also the value of company-provided benefits such as company-paid insurance, matching retirement account grants, etc. I don't think they're required to do this, but it helps to see that they're investing more in you than just what you see in your paycheck.)
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby P. Lues » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:06 pm

Dave I think you nailed it. Neither time I was willing to walk away because I don't live in a biotech hub. So my choices were, either take it or be unemployed. I'm luckier than most just to get a job offer. That's my problem. The coworkers who get paid more moved here from somewhere else and they were probably willing to walk away form a low offer. That's why they were able to get a better deal.

Rich, I don't get any of the perks you mentioned. We do get reimbursed for some courses/training (up to 1000 per year). But every employee gets that and also while I'm appreciative of the fact that the company cares about our training and advancement, it doesn't make up for the fact that I have to commute for 3 hours every day because I can't afford to live in the city.
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Harold » Mon Apr 20, 2015 1:37 pm

Dave Walker wrote:- Know that quality-of-life improvements may make up the difference. Can you get an extra week vacation? Can you get a transit/home office/car reimbursement? Career development opportunities or training? These are serious benefits that can easily be worth >$5,000.


If at all possible, get some feedback on this sort of stuff from folks who work for the company. I hear horror stories about from friends about companies that promise career development compensation but never approve reimbursements for such expenses.
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Lydia » Fri May 01, 2015 11:05 am

P,

This book may be useful (irrespective of your gender) - http://www.amazon.com/Ask-For-It-Negoti ... 0553384554. I have a few friends that swear it helped them in their salary negotiations. One suggestion is practice negotiating in your everyday life, so it becomes more comfortable when it is important.

Lydia
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby H.L.F. » Tue May 05, 2015 9:36 am

Dave, are you suggesting that glassdoor.com's salary ranges are skewed? In your opinion, are they too high or too low?
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Dave Walker » Tue May 05, 2015 1:40 pm

H.L.F. wrote:Dave, are you suggesting that glassdoor.com's salary ranges are skewed? In your opinion, are they too high or too low?


Above skewing, I think people place WAY too much faith in them. Anonymously reported data, with no corroboration. Like a Yelp review, it instantly clouds your judgment.

For example, if a Scientist II at company A makes a "range" of $70k-$90k. But you don't know if that was reported years ago, yesterday, or yesterday by an employee that was there years ago. Do you know how much your coworkers make? With negotiation you might be able to make $120k from that company, especially if it's big with many divisions. You just don't know.

But if I must guess, I would say it skews to being too high. True story, years ago as a graduate student, I rolled in my gym membership, health insurance, and classes into my net worth.

I probably sound like an old geezer at this point, but I am going to trot out a familiar warning: don't rely on the internet for your job hunt. I know so, so many bright people who only use company website job portals, glassdoor and LinkedIn searches to look for work, and are struggling to find a job for YEARS.
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby Ken » Fri May 08, 2015 8:02 am

There is some guide or list that HR uses to understand the job market and to assess the fair market salaries of employees. I think I got the name of that list on this board years ago. And during my negotiations, I said something like, "I'm sure this company will be fair regarding total compensation in line with the guidelines in (insert list name here)." Which at least showed that I was knowledgeable on the subject. I think just demonstrating that sort of understanding of the landscape will get you toward the upper levels of what is appropriate for that position.

Can someone remind me what the name of that document is in case I have to negotiate again?!
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Re: Salary negotations

Postby PG » Fri May 08, 2015 5:35 pm

the importance of negotiations varies between different companies and if you have the possibility to discuss with someone already working for the company that you are interested in you can often relatively easy get information about whether it is possible to negotiate your salary at all and if it is what a possible range would be. When we hire someone we try to give a relevant offer based on the experience of the person we are hiring compared to the salary ranges that we have within the company. If we would offer a candidate something significantly lower than our current salary range for their skill level they will know this very soon after being hired and either we have to correct this in the next salary negotiation or the employee will be unhappy. Neither of these are in our interest. If we instead would hire someone at a significantly higher salary than our current range unless motivated by skills we would end up with an even bigger problem with our previous employees.
As a result our first offer will usually be at an acceptable level and either at or very close what we would be willing to offer in a negotiation.
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