Job seekers - how much $$$ do you really want?

This blog, the second of a two part series, focuses on candidate salary requirements and how job seekers should handle salary issues before and after an employer makes an offer.

Last week we blogged about candidate salary requirements, and things employers need to consider before extending an offer. We gave an example of a highly qualified candidate who provided her salary requirements to the recruiter before the interview process began.  The IT recruiter submitted the candidate and her salary requirements to the client.

The rest of the scenario goes like this:

However, when the company extended an offer, the salary is less than what she requires.  She declines the offer and accepts another one that is within her salary range.

But what if changed the scenario to the following:

However, when the company extended an offer that met the candidate’s original salary requirements, she realizes that she forgot to account for some of her living expenses. The candidate decides she wants more money, and refuses the client’s offer.

Job seekers – don’t get yourself into this situation. Not only is it unprofessional, but it can damage your reputation within the technology community.  Before you agree to interview with a company, here are five things you need to seriously consider as it relates to salary.

  1. Make sure you not only have your “ideal number,” but also have a “bottom line” amount.  This is important because in most cases a particular job will have different compensation ranges depending on the size of the company, how your skill set matches the job description/requirements, and your actual work experience. Unless you match the employer’s requirements perfectly, and you’re the only qualified candidate or the employer’s number one choice for the job, getting an offer that meets your “ideal” salary is probably unrealistic – even in this competitive market. 
  2. Research the salaries and hourly rates of the job you are interested in.  What is the average pay range in the market/industry? Understanding what the typical going rate is will at least give you a good idea of how realistic your numbers are.
  3. Don’t be in denial.  If you come across that “perfect” job, but the recruiter tells you that the employer can only pay $75,000 and you want $85,000 – you need to seriously think if the job really is the “perfect” one.  What you want doesn’t mean you’ll get it – especially if the employer has specified what their absolute amount is.  And don’t fool yourself into thinking that a $10,000 pay cut is acceptable unless there is some substantial trade off that can justify less pay (i.e. stock options, saving money on gas by telecommting, 401K match, etc.) .
  4. Include benefits into the equation.  Be sure to take into consideration your existing benefits package versus the potential employer’s package.  How much comes out of your pay check each month?  A lot of times questions regarding benefits don’t come up till AFTER the offer.  For example, if you are paying insurance for your entire family, the cost differences can be huge depending on the company’s benefits package. This amount can more than make up for any salary difference. If you’re at a large company now and thinking about a position with a small company, benefits may not be as attractive and you’ll be paying more out of pocket.  So…do your home work before, and at least be ready to ask the questions. 
  5. Be prepared for a counter offer from your current employer.  If you’re top talent, the company you’re at will most likely want to keep you.  And if they know you’re leaving, they’ll try to keep you by making an offer you can’t refuse.  But remember that in most cases, counter offers don’t work out.  Employees who accept counter offers at their existing employers end up leaving within a year (if that long).  Bottom line…if you start your search and begin interviewing, be ready to leave.  Know what it’s going to take for you to accept an offer with a new employer and stick to your guns.  Otherwise, you may end up in a tug of war between your current company and the new company. And if that happens, you may very well end up being the loser.

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