Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Salary Negotiation

Question:
I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering this past spring.
My SQA experience is very limited, but I've proven to be good at it so far, and have even received a monetary bonus for my work. I'm currently a consultant and interviewing for a permanent position with the company holding the contract. My job description and responsibilities would not change if hired. Considering my limited experience, what is a good salary range to try to negotiate at my interview? I'd appreciate any feedback as I have no job experience to compare to.

Posted by Julie

Answer:
Why are you considering leaving? Are you happy where you are now? Is your only concern the cash? Most major salary increases occur when you leave your current company for a new position elsewhere. A friend of mine gave me this rule of thumb: don't leave your current job for less than a 10% increase.
Whenever salary comes up in an interview, I simply tell the interviewers
the truth: they will give me a fair salary and I don't offer any information about what I expect them to pay me.
In practice, every company has a salary range in consideration for every
position that they want to fill. If they think that your skills match the position but your salary expectations are out of line, you won't get called back, but you don't know what that line is. The company will have to make you an offer letter that indicates how much they are willing to pay you. If it's not enough, go back to them and tell them that they are not being fair. They won't have burned any bridges by telling other candidates that the position had been filled. They may negotiate with you--I have had many HR representatives tell me how they came to that conclusion through salary surveys of the local area (it's usually a discussion ending statement).
As I see it, the key is, as in chess or most martial arts: don't make the first move. Feel free to give them your current salary and tell them that you will not leave for anything less than 10% more, or whatever your bottom line is. Every company knows that if you're in motion, you're willing to continue in that motion (i.e. look for work elsewhere) and other companies may make plays for you once you land on their doorstep. They will tend to be fair and if they're not, then you'll know in the offer letter.
As a side note, one former manager was courted by a large company in town. She refused to leave. When another company convinced her to leave, they made several attempts to court her with larger and larger salaries. She finally agreed to go for more than double their initial offer to her. Their initial salary offer to her was more than 50% larger than her salary at the company in which we both worked so it was a lot of money--but it was only for the money and she stayed for one year as she agreed to do.

Posted by Walter Görlitz

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