Reader A, a CPAA with 12 years of experience, writes with some great questions…
How does one negotiate a good compensation package? I have only ever worked for local firms. The salary data online seems to reflect “big 4” or equivalent pay scales. I have talked to a few headhunters and they all seem to think I should be making more than I am. What do I do when a prospective employer asks point blank what I am making now? I don’t want to lowball myself.
This is a particularly apt question in light of this post on the Bucks blog, calling attention to another blog posting wherein the author admitted to “bumping” her current salary up $5,000 when her interviewer asked what she was paid, and then asking for another $5,000 when they offered her the job with a “matched” salary. Long story short: it’s illegal to lie about your salary in job interviews! So… don’t try that tactic.
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Our recommendation would be twofold. First, let’s say that you’re at Company X. if you can get TWO job offers from Company Y and Company Z, you can sometimes play them against each other — we would probably avoid naming names, at least unless pressed, and see if company Y will increase your salary to match what company Z is offering. Don’t leave Company X out of the mix, either, unless you’re looking for a new job because you hate your old one — rather than quitting outright, talk to the Powers that Be at Company X and say, “Company Y has offered me $__ to jump ship!” And see if Company X will match it… and then go forward from there.
A second recommendation would be to really look at what your lower-salary job is actually giving you. Do you get four weeks vacation? How are your health insurance benefits? Are there other perks, like discounts to a local gym, or on-site daycare? We would factor that into the discussion, once the interviewer raises the issue. For example: “I currently make $__ in dollars, but there are a number of perks that I’ve enjoyed for years and that you don’t offer. To be honest, I would probably put a pricetag of $5K on those perks.” Be totally honest — and KNOW what perks the interviewer does and does not offer. In fact, this discussion might be a good time to assess those intangible perks.
This great article from CBS MoneyWatch also suggests classics like asking for a signing bonus, a performance bonus, stock options, or asking for more perks.
Readers, what are your best tips for salary negotiation? Any great victory stories to share?