When evaluating a salary offer, be sure to do so with realistic expectations.
Salary offers are driven by many factors, including:
- The state of the economy
- Supply and demand of your particular skill set
- The industry
- The type of employer
- Geographic location and cost of living
- Your education
- Your experience level
Do not evaluate salary solely on the base salary. Your benefits package can add 30–40% to your base salary. Pension contributions, personal time off, bonuses and educational assistance should all be taken into consideration. Also consider your future earnings potential.
Contrary to what many say, not everything is negotiable. Sometimes employers have more flexibility than they are willing to admit, but this can vary with the economic times, the salary structure and other factors. It is also important to note that salaries for new, entry-level hires may not be flexible at all, depending on the industry.
- Ask questions
Once you receive an offer, it is fair to ask, “How much flexibility do you have to discuss ______?” You may be satisfied with the salary, but have questions about other factors that are negotiable. That being said, be sure to research the conventions in your field before you ask.
- Think carefully
If an employer offers a salary slightly lower than your expectations, evaluate the entire offer before making a final decision about whether the salary is in fact too low.
- Employ evidence
If you negotiate the salary, you must use supporting evidence to make an argument for why you are worth more.
- Ask questions
- Quick guide for salary negotiations
- Magazines such as Businessweek, produce annual issues examining employment and salary trends.
- Professional Associations often prepare salary surveys, examine employment trends and compile lists of employers within their field.
- Recruitment agencies also often prepare salary surveys, examine employment trends and compile lists of employers within their field.