With stock markets in flux and a growing uneasiness in the marketplace, researching your worth on the open market is a valuable exercise, even while happily employed. Don’t be misled into thinking there are limited opportunities for you to increase your salary – there are job vacancies and needed talent in today’s job market and employers want to compensate valuable employees fairly. When you know the value that your personal skill set, experience and education brings to an employer, you can consider negotiating your salary from a position of strength – and not undersell yourself. When searching for a new job, you can be confident in your ability to negotiate a salary that both you and the potential employer will find mutually acceptable based on your own worth and what you know about your potential employer.
Think of total compensation, not just base salary. This includes potential commissions, bonuses, future salary increases, stock share options as well as employee benefits. Check your company pay scale to determine where your current salary resides and assess that against similar positions within your industry and on the open market. You can also check online sites for salary information based on title, location, experience and education such as Salary.com, PayScale.com or Glassdoor.com.
Then, research the current financial state of the company you are looking to join. Check the company financial reports, industry reports, news releases and media outlets. Determine what is negotiable and what is not. If an employer wants to hire you, they will present you with an offer, but don’t be afraid of asking what flexibility exists within the offer. If you know that you need to earn a certain base salary, perhaps other elements of the compensation package may be negotiated with a little more flexibility. For instance, if salary is non-negotiable, perhaps medical and dental benefits or payment for industry association memberships could potentially save you money that you would be paying for out-of-pocket. Or perhaps additional vacation time could prove to be a winning benefit for you.
Be patient — wait until you have received an actual offer before raising the question of compensation. Ask for time to consider the offer and choose the right time to negotiate. If you are asked for salary expectations early on during the interview, be cautious. You don’t want to propose something that is more than the employer is willing or able to pay.
Finally, some other factors to consider when thinking about salary negotiations are non-financial in nature, but nonetheless have an important impact on job satisfaction. These include flexible work hours, tele-commuting, possible promotions and future growth opportunities. The more research you do on the value you bring to the job market and the more you learn about the financial situation of a potential employer, the better your opportunity to sell yourself as a valuable resource and maximize your potential new salary.