Articles instructing us how to trim our budgets often target the coffee shop specialty coffees: $3.00 a day, compounds to $15 a week, $60 a month, and so on through your working career. I recently heard a compelling rebuttal to the instruction that we do without our morning caffeine stop. “I’m not expecting any great inheritance,” the twenty-something employee declared. “I figure the money I spend in the morning to fuel my day is a great investment in my own productivity.” That statement got me to thinking that more than ever today’s young workers rely on themselves, not their parents or fabulous market gains to achieve their goals. Accordingly, their salary is more important that ever.
With high unemployment making it a hirer’s market, it’s more important than ever not to sell yourself short when it comes to salary negotiations. A recent article by Greg Robb for Market Watch offered some stellar advice for those about to tackle salary negotiations.
Set your expectations, says Don Hurzeler, author of the book The Way Up: How to Keep Your Career Moving in the Right Direction. If you are unemployed and applying for work, he says to expect to earn approximately what your old salary was or slightly less. However, if you are being hired away from an existing position, look for a 20% salary increase.
Charlotte Weeks, a Chicago-based career coach advises clients to avoid answering questions about expected salary early in the interview process. She says to deflect money questions by turning the tables and talking about what you can offer the company. Later in the interview process, you might offer an acceptable salary range based on your research into what others in the field earn, says Karen Lawson, a management consultant.
Finally, before you accept an offer, be sure to calculate the value if a company’s benefits, including health insurance, 401(k) plan, deferred compensation program, and even vacation and sick leave.