Career Planning

What to do when you are asked your bottom line Salary number for a position.
This question can spring up near the beginning of a job interview, or anytime throughout the interview process.  Regardless of the circumstances, competent executives will always be prepared to answer the most important question/s that surfaces in a serious dialogue between hiring managers and prospective employees.

The exact phrasing of this question will vary, however the meaning is always clear: "What will it take for us to get you on board our ?" 

Fortunately, accepting a job offer frequently offers you a significant jump in compensation and provides you the benefit of negotiating all of the terms of employment.  Rule number one, two and three in negotiating: Be prepared.

Here are a few tips to help you with your salary expectations and negotiations.

1. Do your homework.
Be prepared with facts and figures to demonstrate your value to the prospective employer. Know your worth in the market. Research what comparable positions with similar responsibilities and similar backgrounds/ educations command in your industry and location.  Be well aware that BOTH industry and Location will have a significant affect on the real numbers: don’t just accept what you will find on sites such as career builder or monster.  Check with local recruiters to get an accurate picture of what is really going on in the local market/s

2. Make it clear that your goal is fairness.
You want to be compensated fairly with what your colleagues are paid for comparable responsibilities, and you want to be rewarded for superior performance.

3. Show that hiring you is not an expense but a smart investment.
Marketing 101 teaches to serve the perceived needs of your target audience.  Prove that you will be able to add to the bottom line through increased sales, cost reductions, revenue gains, enhanced productivity, etc. Have tables or charts to illustrate the impact your expertise will have, and use actual data where available.  If possible, be able to demonstrate ROI on the company’s ‘investment’ in you.

4. Give a salary bracket range and avoid narrowly defining an exact number for your desired salary. When asked, make sure that you report your current base and bonus accurately.  
Give a range that allows you room to negotiate for bonuses, benefits, time off, etc.  No two jobs are the same and no two candidates are alike.  When asked about current or former base salaries and bonuses make sure that you report them accurately.  Inaccuracies in any aspect of employment application/ interview processes are grounds for dismissal.

5. Have a bottom line in mind.
Negotiation 101 teaches to thoroughly and clearly understand your market, your objectives and to have a bottom line, below which you can walk away.  Think about what this opportunity is worth to you. What will you give up?  What are your “must haves”, or needs without which you wont accept?  Be open and flexible on the rest.  Consider environment, exposure, challenges, growth and educational opportunities, time off,  conference/ network building opportunities, bonus ability, stock option possibilities, etc. vs. base salary etc.

6. All negotiations, especially with a future employer (or partner) should be a win-win for you and your future employer.
Often candidates fail to adequately express or demonstrate their interest in the position, the team, the company.  Make sure that the prospective employer clearly understands that you want this job and you are confident that if you agree that you're the right choice, together you can make this happen. Take the focus off the dollars and put it on the chance to have an impact, find solutions, and move forward.  Never forget that the apriori is the base skills needed and 80% of a hiring decision is chemistry.  If the chemistry is exceptional, anything is possible.

7. Negotiate your future base salary and bonus parameters with your future boss if at all possible, avoid the process with their HR staff person.
Only your future boss knows what they need and has adequate ability to assess your potential contribution to those needs and goals and when convinced of the “fit”, will go to bat to get this deal together for you. It is the hiring managers budget from which your compensation will draw, not HR’s – Do your homework, understand their needs and goals, demonstrate your competencies and potential to meet and exceed those goals and show them your business and negotiating skills from the beginning!

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