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Job offer / salary negotiation

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
First, I apologize, because I know there have been similar threads before. But I wanted to post my situation and see if I could get some advice.

FI and I are moving across the country in less than a month due to a job he accepted. The past year, we've been living primarily on my salary alone, with periodic freelance work from him. We'll be getting a big boost financially when he starts working, as he will make roughly 1.5 times what I do.

I've been looking around for jobs in the new area for the past couple months. I first concentrated directly in the area where he'll be working (which is a small town). I had pretty much no luck there, so I expanded out. There is a decently sized city about one hour away, and I finally started getting contacted from applications I sent out in that area. FI volunteered to commute the hour to work, as he will only be teaching 3 days per week and I was the one who had to commute during our years in grad school.

The one good thing about my field, is that once you have direct experience, it is MUCH easier to find a job. I have a fairly broad degree, but the particular area I work in has a strong preference for applicants with experience in my specific field. I've done a couple of really good phone interviews, culminating in a nearly 2 hour one yesterday where I think I clicked really well with the director. I must have, as she said she'd never hired someone from a distance, and she needed to find out what the process was for hiring in such a case. She called back today to say that they are wanting to make me an offer (contingent on things like a background check, drug screen, references).

She asked what I was making in my current job to get an idea of where I wanted to be salary-wise. I've been in my current job for a year. It was my first job out of grad school, and last summer was a very stressful time for FI and me. Our lease ran out while we were job searching, and we ended up staying with friends for a couple weeks. I was so relieved to get the offer last year, that I just accepted it without negotiating on salary. Maybe it was silly of me, but I felt weird about trying to get more money coming directly out of school.

I kind of lucked out, because a month or so after I started, my agency reviewed their salaries and raised the range offered, so I got a raise right away to get bumped to the new minimum.

Anyway, the new company offered me right about the same amount I make now [If I stayed at my current job, I'd be getting an annual raise next month - I want to say it's 3%]. I should add that they will also be providing me with clinical supervision, which is pretty pricey if you have to pay for it yourself. It's a perk that I don't have at my current job. It would mean that after about 2 years, I could test to be licensed at a higher level = higher pay and far more job opportunities.

From what I can tell, the cost of living is slightly higher in the new area. We're planning for our rent to increase ~20%. With our combined salaries, FI and I are more than doubling (nearly tripling, really) our income with this move.

I just looked up average salary for my field on salary.com. I'm fairly significantly under the median. That makes sense to an extent, as salary is largely based on experience in this field, and I only have one year. I don't expect to make the median, but I'd like to be a little higher than I am.

How much do you think is fair for me to negotiate? The director I've been interviewing with basically said I could negotiate, but that it just needs to be approved by the executive director. I've never negotiated on salary before, so I have no idea what to ask for (this kind of thing makes me uncomfortable - can you tell?) I know the worst they can say is no, but I want to ask for something reasonable that won't offend anyone.

Tips, advice, etc, are appreciated! By the way, cross-country moving tips are also accepted in this thread. I'm so sorry for the rambling. It's late, and it has been a long week! Thanks, PS!
 

manderz

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2010
Messages
1,539
I think that you should take into consideration that 1) you would miss your annual raise by leaving to your new location and 2) the cost of living is higher in your new location. I know that as a unit, you would be greatly increasing your income, but it just doesn't make sense not to take these things into consideration when discussing with the new job. Congrats on your upcoming move! I wish you luck in your negotiations and future!
 

lliang_chi

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
3,740
Merlinda, you did the first step of researching average & median salary. And honestly you're not being "greedy" and expecting the median, you're OK with taking less. To me, it sounds like you have a number (or at least a range) in your head. I'd just be upfront and give them that. If you're uncomfortable give them a $10K range, e.g. $30,000-$40,000, and they can pick if where in that range they want to go. Anyway, there's no harm in asking. I'm not in HR, but I have done quite a few job switching, and negotiating. There's nothing wrong with telling a company, "I really want to work for you. And if you offered me $X, it would be an easy answer. But at $X-n, I'll have to think about it."

Congrats on the impending offer, and good luck on our negotiations.
 

mrscushion

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 15, 2008
Messages
3,309
I think any amount you can support with a fact-based argument, you can ask for. If you know that living expenses are 20% higher (back this up with some research, if you can), I think you can ask for 20% more. They may say yes. If they don't want to give you that, they won't. But they'll probably give you something in between.

In a future employer asks for my current salary, I wouldn't give the number without qualifying it with a "...but I'm expecting to raise my salary as I move to a new job, because of XYZ reason."
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
I have been in a similar situation a small number of times in the past, and so far, each and every time the offer still stood even if I asked for more and the answer was a no. Twice, the answer was yes.

So there is no harm asking. As advised you can always state that you are asking more due to cost of living and the pending annual raise that you are missing out on, or the bonus that you have accrued that you will not be getting.

Keep it reasonable, and if you are new to the job market, stick to figures instead of percentages? Your overall package will be lower in absolute dollar terms so i would ask for a dollar sum, rather than a percentage as it might seem smaller that way.
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Thanks for the responses! FI suggested that I just go back and thank them for the offer, and then asked if they'd be comfortable going anymore in salary - and then seeing what they offer.

Do you think I should do that, or give them a number that's maybe 5% more and seeing if they'll agree to it? At the least, I would like to go up around 3%, since that's what I would be getting next month if I were staying in my current position.
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
You can do what your FI suggested, and then when they ask for the range, you can ask for the number equivalent of 5-8% more. Then just be open with them about the reason why you are asking, but give them wiggle room. I'm sure it would work out somehow.

If they really can't, they will get back to you, and you can decide then.
 

mrscushion

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 15, 2008
Messages
3,309
I think that if you say that, they may well counter with "well, what salary are you looking for?", so if you go that route be prepared to name a number after all.

Are you sure you are not selling yourself short by only wanting 3% more if you are far below the median and cost of living is 20% higher? I know your husband just got a plum job as well, but that shouldn't mean that you should all of a sudden be making less than you should. They are not going to rescind their offer just because you are asking for more money, particularly if you do it nicely and professionally, which, from what you've been posting thus far, I have no doubt you will.

Just my $0.02. In b-school our career counselors warned us time and again that women too often earn less money than men for the same job because they're inhibited to ask for the salary they should be making.
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
I've thought about it, and I think I'm going to ask for a number 8-9% higher. Do you think that's reasonable? Mscushion, I think you are spot on here, and I really appreciate your input. I'm absolutely terrible at this kind of thing, and I need to stand up for myself a little. When I was younger, I was hesitant to even say anything when I was charged the wrong amount, given incorrect change, etc. I've gotten better about that, but it's still definitely a weakness.

I think it's a trait that a lot of people in my field have (I'm a social worker). We often advocate for others much more effectively than we advocate for ourselves - and I think that's part of the reason why my field is pretty underpaid across the board.
 

manderz

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 8, 2010
Messages
1,539
I agree!! I'm studying to be a social worker, and it's always MUCH easier to help someone else out than to ask for what you deserve. You are worth it, you've worked hard for it, and living expenses will be more expensive.
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
12,111
merilenda|1310242611|2965606 said:
I've thought about it, and I think I'm going to ask for a number 8-9% higher. Do you think that's reasonable? Mscushion, I think you are spot on here, and I really appreciate your input. I'm absolutely terrible at this kind of thing, and I need to stand up for myself a little. When I was younger, I was hesitant to even say anything when I was charged the wrong amount, given incorrect change, etc. I've gotten better about that, but it's still definitely a weakness.

I think it's a trait that a lot of people in my field have (I'm a social worker). We often advocate for others much more effectively than we advocate for ourselves - and I think that's part of the reason why my field is pretty underpaid across the board.
I would ask for more than 8-9%, especially if the median is around 20% more. If I were you I would ask for the median. The worst they can say is no. More likely they'll meet you in the middle.) I would say "Based on my experience and skills, as well as salary research and cost of living in the area, I was thinking $40,000 (or whatever the amount is) would be more appropriate.

Is the company you'll be working for on glassdoor.com? I would look there and try to get specific salary info for the company as well as for that job title in the area to make sure you're asking for the right amount. Don't shortchange yourself. If you go into a job making considerably less, you'll make considerably less for your entire career. Most raises without a promotion are 2-5%, so it will take a long time to make up what you should have been paid to begin with.

I was in a similar situation a month ago (similar job, new city) and asked for 15% more than my original offer. I ended up getting around an 8-9% raise over my previous position, which I was happy with.

Good luck, and there is nothing to be afraid of-the worst they can say is no! They won't rescind your offer for asking for more money!
 

mrscushion

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 15, 2008
Messages
3,309
I think 8-9% + is a more than reasonable bump to ask for. I agree with thing2 that it may still be on the low side, but if that is what you feel comfortable with, then go for that!
 

kama_s

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
Messages
3,617
Definitely ask for the 15-20% more. They might negotiate it down a bit or accept what you're asking for. Just make sure you have numbers to back you up. For instance, you can say that you have been made aware that the range for your position and experience is typically between x and y, and hence x+ would be a more fair remuneration.

I've always been asked what my salary expectations are and I never say what I currently make. I always instead give a range I would be comfortable with. Ofcourse, that range is backed up by industry standards.

Good luck!
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Thanks, everyone! Do you know of any other sites that would be reliable other than glassdoor.com? I couldn't find anything on there, and I definitely want to be armed with as much info as possible! Also, do you know of any sites where I can compare cost of living? I don't have any exact numbers, but we are looking at our rent to increase ~20% (although in all fairness, we rent a single family home from a private person currently, and we get a great deal on it. We couldn't find anything exactly comparable in the new area). Other costs seemed similar, so I want to be accurate when I say that I'm expecting living expenses to increase X amount.

Right now, I'm thinking that I will see if they feel comfortable in a range about 10-12% more. I don't feel comfortable asking for the median salary I've found, as I feel that's based on someone around the midpoint of their career, and I'm only one year out of school. I also don't yet have my clinical license, which should result in a pay raise once I get it (about 2 years from now).

Manderz, are you in a MSW program?
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Thanks so much for the links, mscushion! They all seem to say that I should expect a cost of living increase around 4% when I move. In line with what I was thinking, rent is closer to 20% more, where other areas are much more comparable.

Depending on what site I use, the median salary varies as much as 10k. I used payscale, and that tells me that I'm already right on the median, but salary.com tells me I'm about 10k lower. So now I'm not sure.
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
12,111
merilenda|1310336051|2966077 said:
Thanks so much for the links, mscushion! They all seem to say that I should expect a cost of living increase around 4% when I move. In line with what I was thinking, rent is closer to 20% more, where other areas are much more comparable.

Depending on what site I use, the median salary varies as much as 10k. I used payscale, and that tells me that I'm already right on the median, but salary.com tells me I'm about 10k lower. So now I'm not sure.
No matter what I would still ask for at least 15% more. 15% is a pretty standard counter offer. There is no reason to not at least ask for 15% more. Again-the worse they can do is say no!
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention - I've had a couple of phone interviews with another company in the same area for the same job. With the other company, it is a parttime job, and I would obviously prefer the fulltime job that I was offered. Also, the other company told me they would need to meet with me in person before making an official offer, but that they were very interested. So I don't have an official offer, but they casually told me that they could come up from my current salary a certain amount. Is this something I should mention when negotiating (that another company is interested?) Or should I leave it out?

I'm so terrible at this kind of thing, and it's stressing me out! I'm ready to get this negotiated and move onto the next stage! Give me a cup to pee in and fingerprint me all you want! You guys are so helpful, really. I appreciate it a LOT!
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
12,111
merilenda|1310337464|2966090 said:
Oh, the other thing I forgot to mention - I've had a couple of phone interviews with another company in the same area for the same job. With the other company, it is a parttime job, and I would obviously prefer the fulltime job that I was offered. Also, the other company told me they would need to meet with me in person before making an official offer, but that they were very interested. So I don't have an official offer, but they casually told me that they could come up from my current salary a certain amount. Is this something I should mention when negotiating (that another company is interested?) Or should I leave it out?

I'm so terrible at this kind of thing, and it's stressing me out! I'm ready to get this negotiated and move onto the next stage! Give me a cup to pee in and fingerprint me all you want! You guys are so helpful, really. I appreciate it a LOT!
I've heard mixed things about letting one company know another is interested. And since you don't particularly want the other job, I would probably just leave it out of the discussion. You have enough reasons (the median salary, higher cost of living, experience, general room for negotiation) to go on, IMO.

I promise it'll be fine when you ask for more money. :)) They expect it-the woman who made you an offer already said as much when she mentioned having to go back to the board for approval of a higher salary!

You can do this, and once you do you'll feel great about negotiating for more. Just remember-ask for at least 15%! (In case I didn't make that opinion obvious enough before. :cheeky: ) There's no reason for you to downgrade yourself based on your experience-the company can make that decision if they want to!

Good luck and please keep us posted! Tons of hardcore negotiator dust coming your way! :bigsmile:
 

lliang_chi

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
3,740
Mer, don't be shy by asking. You're very qualified and you're asking for a FAIR salary. Honestly it's perfectly expected to ask for at least 10% more than your current salary. The company will NOT ding you for countering for more money. It's part of the process, I *promise*.

Also most probably you will NOT need to supply the reason why you think it should be a higher offer. My typical script for countering goes like, "Hi Bob. Thanks so much for extending your offer for X position. I can't tell you how excited I am to join your team. However, in terms of salary, I think $50,000 (or $45,000-$55,000 if you don't want to give a number) is a fair salary for my experience and education. Again, I'm really excited to join your team and I think I'll be a great addition... blah, blah, blah."

Most likely they'll say 1) we don't negotiate salary 2) they can go up to $43,000 or 3) they have to get back to you. Either way, you're no worse off than you were when you started.

Negotiating dust coming your way. You can do it!

~LC
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Thanks thing and liang_chi, I appreciate your input on this! I definitely will let you know how it goes - I'm hoping to talk with her again tomorrow. I think I'll ask for about 15% more and see what they say. Even if they negotiate down some, I'll hopefully be coming out ahead. Thanks for the dust!
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Well, I've been stressing out about this all weekend, but I did call back today and talk more about the offer. I asked if they could go ~15% higher. She is going to talk with the director and see what he's willing to do. There were a couple of things she said (1) they want to make sure the salaries are fair for the various staff members across the board based on education/experience. And (2) they are restructuring the way annual raises are done to where they are done on a certain month for everyone (not the month you were hired). So she would find out how that would work.

I think the point about me getting an annual raise next month at my current job was the most effective one, and she said that she would advocate for that to be taken into consideration.

I was definitely uncomfortable with it all, but I think I was able to do it in a non-demanding way that still advocated for myself. It's an hour later there, so she said she'd probably need to get back with me tomorrow.

I'm planning to give written notice at my current job tomorrow as well. Phew! I'll let you know what happens!
 

shihtzulover

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 30, 2010
Messages
717
Congratulations on calling and asking for a higher salary - I'm also not always good at advocating for myself, so I definitely understand how difficult it can be. Good luck, and congratulations on the new job! :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl: :appl:
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Update! I've been so ridiculously busy this week, I haven't had much time to get on PS. I ended up accepting a counteroffer for the new job. It ended up being about a 5% raise for me (which is what they felt comfortable with, as that is the high end of their pay range for my level of experience). My take home pay will be a little more though, as the deductable for health insurance will be about a 1/3 of what it at my current job, from what I can tell. I'll also be getting additional perks (such as a the free supervision, which will save me a TON of money).

They also told me I'd get the full annual raise when they do it company-wide, and she wasn't sure what month that was, but it's definitely in less than a year. They also have little incentives such as a raise when you get a certain certification, and a larger raise when you get your clinical license (should take me about 2 years). So I'm excited! I'm working here until the end of the month, FI and I will be moving the 1st week of August, and then we both start our new jobs the 2nd week.

Now if our housing situation can fall into place just as smoothly....we applied for a townhome, but then found a rental house that is ADORABLE. We had our hearts set on a single family house (it's what we have here) but couldn't find anything we liked. We're waiting for them to confirm that it's still available & that the owner is okay with our cats. If so, we're thinking we'll just eat the application fee/deposit we put down on the townhouse (it's $160 total, so not THAT big of a deal) and get this house. I've got my fingers crossed!
 

iheartscience

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
12,111
Congratulations! It sounds like everything is falling into place perfectly! Fingers crossed on the house, too!
 
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