Career Coach: Show Me the Money

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson tackles the toughest request a new hire has to ask their new employer show me the money.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson.

When you apply for a job your main concern may be the salary and benefits offered. But the employers main concern is what you can do for the company how you can add value to the organization. Once the employer is satisfied that you can make a valuable contribution, he will tender an offer. How you address the topic of compensation can have a great influence on how much it will be.

Before you begin interviewing, determine your minimum salary requirement. Do research to determine the salary range of similar jobs. Some sources for salary information include www.salary.com, www.payscale.com, www.salaryexpert.com. The Labor Departments website at www.bls.gov offers a mother lode of data including median and average wages for hundreds of jobs. But use this data carefully as the governments numbers are generally one to three years old. A salary survey in the animation and visual effects fields can be found at the Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists website at www.mpsc839.org.

Avoid raising the issue of money, benefits and related matters in the first interview. Youll be eliminated as a candidate if the employer believes your primary concern is money, rather than the job opportunity. It implies that you are more interested in yourself than in the job or the company.

Be patient. If the person with hiring authority decides to offer you the job, the discussion will inevitably turn to money and benefits in successive interviews.

The objective of the job search is to get the offer. The time to start discussing salary is after the offer is made.

The employer may raise the subject of money in the first interview with questions such as, What will it take to get you here? or What salary are you looking for? The best strategy is to give a noncommittal response such as, Im looking for a salary commensurate to my experience or skills. Then switch the subject back to the job and how you can contribute to the company.

Convince the decision maker that you are worth top dollar by showing how you can add value to the companys operations. Cite examples that show you have increased productivity or saved time, cut expenses or improved revenues. Be as specific as you can about your accomplishments its your chance to brag about problem solving, innovation, creativity and results.

When the interviewer raises the compensation issue, avoid being first to state a salary figure. The employer will tend to think the job is too big for you if the figure you cite is too low. If you can, throw the question back at the interviewer in a tactful manner. You might reply, How much do you think my experience and skills are worth to the company?

By naming a salary figure that is much too high, you will price yourself out of the job and indicate that you will be dissatisfied with less. If you name a figure that is high, but still in range, in most cases the negotiation will be about decreasing it.

If the employer is first to name a figure, the negotiation can be directed toward increasing salary or adding perks or benefits. If the hiring executive offers a salary figure that is too low, point out that you want to work for the company, cite some aspect of your background that will add value to the company, and explain why you cannot accept an amount below your minimum salary requirement.

The employers job is to obtain your services for the lowest salary you will accept. Your job is to obtain the highest compensation for those services. Stick to your predetermined minimum salary requirement. There are other jobs that will meet your requirement if this one does not.

If the company cant meet your basic salary requirement, consider the value of other aspects of a compensation package. In lieu of salary you may be able to negotiate perks, which cost the company very little but would be of value to you. These might include a job title, announcements to the industry press about your new affiliation with the company and flextime or telecommuting. Negotiable items that offset a lower salary but cost the company more might include a sign-on bonus, bonus based on profitability, performance bonus, stock, equity in the company, early raise review, health/life insurance, stock options, seminars, workshops, conferences, memberships to professional affiliations, comp time and relocation assistance, which could include help with a car lease/loan.

Salary negotiation can be tricky, but when you know your value by doing research, you can be confident and successful. As you negotiate, constantly remind the company of your value. View yourself as a product you are selling yourself to the company. If an employer turns down your request for a higher salary level, remind him why you are worth the extra money by talking about your accomplishments, skills and qualifications. Remember that the person across the table is concerned with the bottom line. Show him how you can improve his, and youre sure to improve your own.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson, recruiter/career coach, will be teaching a class called Career Realities in the fall for 10 weeks at Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood. Students will learn about career strategies, including networking, negotiation tips and how to survive as a freelancer. Find out more at www.gnomon3d.com or call 323-466-6663..

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