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Salary Negotiation

Your salary, just like anything else will have components that are negotiable.  While some companies will have more flexibility than others, what the company initially presents you is usually their starting offer.

Know what you’re worth

Before you can ask for a certain salary you need to know what you’re worth.  Don’t assume that your current or last salary is the current going rate in the market.  You must do your research.

Network and talk to people who work in the Human Resource field — what do they pay their employees for someone with your skills and experience?

Review the current job market — what are the current supply and demand conditions in your specific geographic area?

Go online to multiple salary surveys and review the low-high ranges for similar positions.

Understanding what you’re negotiating

One of the important things to keep in mind is that you want to look at ‘total compensation.’  Your base salary, or hourly rate, is only one component of salary negotiation.

Most organizations will have fixed ranges that base or hourly rates must fall between.  You can only push these limits so far.  You should never feel awkward about asking “What is the base salary range for this position?”   Some organizations may not share this information, while others openly will.

Government positions must post the range for all positions.  It is common that the base range will not exceed approx. 92% of the posted rate.  This is commonly done so there is room to give you a performance based increase in the following year without moving you outside the fixed range.

So where does that leave you?

Remember any negotiations involve trade-offs.  Both sides want to make the best deal so it’s important to maintain both your flexibility and patience.  Read Maintain your Flexibility on for further tips.

Once you’re armed with a realistic salary begin to identity what components of the position and salary you might want to negotiate.  Some areas may include:

  • Base, or Hourly rate
  • Signing Bonus
  • Six month salary review
  • Job title
  • Starting hours
  • Health/dental benefits etc.
  • Virtual/work from home options
  • Paid parking and/or mileage expenses
  • Total vacation weeks
  • Company employee discounts/reduced rates
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Paid attendance at industry conferences

When is the best time to negotiate?

Timing is definitely critical.  If you start asking the interviewer about salary, vacation and benefits in the very first interview this will set a very bad tone.  The interviewer wants to know you are interested in the position, and that you would be a good fit with the organization and team.

Learn as much about the position as possible, as this will help you confirm the salary range you will be negotiating for.

The optimum time to begin negotiating is when you know the interviewer is convinced you’re the best candidate for this role.  Depending on the organization, this could be sometime between the 2nd and 4th interview.

Don’t begin active negotiation when the interviewer is still learning who you are and how you ‘might’ fit in.  You will know through subsequent interviews and follow-up questions how interested they are in you, so time your negotiation.  But remember, it’s also too late to start asking for things, once you’ve signed the contract.  So, as long as you’ve done your research, maintain your flexibility and keep professional, most organization will negotiate with you.  Refer to Timing your Negotiating on for more information.

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