How much are you worth? It’s a touchy subject for most business professionals, no matter how many years of experience you have under your belt.
For some reason, most people find establishing one’s salary with a prospective employer to be a difficult conversation to have. You may have negotiated multi-million-dollar deals. You may have worked with senior executives of Fortune 500 companies.
You may have initiated breakthrough game-changing plans for your current employer. But then you freeze when it comes to discussing what you deserve to be paid.
Why is this? To some extent, it’s because negotiating a compensation package is a skill that we have never been taught; it’s something that in the course of our entire lives, we don’t normally do too often.
Maybe you just find it to be an uncomfortable, somewhat confrontational process. Maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the past.
You’re not alone. Surveys show that at least 40 percent of people do not attempt any kind of salary bump while negotiating on their own behalf.
If this is you, you could be missing out on a huge income stream, year after year. So, let’s say you’ve nailed the interview and you’ve been offered the job.
If the position you really want is a great stepping-stone toward fulfilling your career dreams, great, but I’m sure you’d sure like to also be compensated well. Check out some useful tips to get the compensation package you deserve:
Know Your Worth
You need to figure out your worth — financially. It’s pretty easy to discover the salary levels that others are making across the country for jobs similar to yours.
LinkedIn is an excellent resource. It offers so many job listings that contain specific salary amounts and salary ranges. There are other websites like, glassdoor.com and salary.com, which offer similar features.
Perhaps the best resource of all is the people you know in your industry. Use your network to tell you the salary range that you should expect.
Know When to Walk
You have to start with the end in mind. Work out the minimum salary you can accept that will provide the life you want for you and your family. Be prepared to walk away from the position if you can’t afford to accept the offer.
There will always be another opportunity around the corner. No doubt, there may well be the possibility of excellent raises once you’ve started work and proven your contribution to the team.
But if you don’t establish your true value on day one, it could mean losing hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout your career.
It’s Not All About the Money
Of course, negotiating a good salary is only part of your compensation package. It’s really important to bear in mind that there are numerous and varied perks and benefits that a good company makes available to its valued employees.
You should take these into account when assessing the worth of your job offer. Sometimes a company has a rigid structure with regard to salaries, but a lot of flexibility when it comes to these perks and benefits. On occasion, the benefits come out of different budgets, so the hiring manager may have more discretion.
There may be a particular benefit that is of great value to you and, from the company’s perspective, might not cost them too much.
Some potential benefits to consider are insurance, a retirement plan, 401k, paid vacation, bonuses, profit sharing, stock options and even daycare.
Entire books and training courses have been written on the art of negotiation. But let me just share a couple of pointers that can make a difference. For starters, you should get in the habit of asking for something in exchange for giving up something else.
For example, if your job can’t provide gym memberships, perhaps it could take care of your professional association fees and publication subscriptions. If the company has difficulty meeting your salary requirements, you could always offer to take on additional responsibilities. It communicates initiative and a willingness to do more.
Beware of digging in your heels and asking for something that the company just can’t give — that reflects badly on you and might be a deal breaker.
The Best Reward Of All?
Getting a fabulous compensation package is obviously a great motivator. It’s an acknowledgment of your talent and experience. It’s recognition of your role at a company and the contribution you make to its success. And it goes without saying that you have to pay your bills and provide for your family.
At RadiumOne, I’m a firm believer in generously rewarding those members of the team who are committed and who perform. Every company CEO should want and demand a rock star team and take care of them accordingly.
And there are definitely times when you, as an individual, have to carefully consider your career trajectory. You might get an opportunity to become part of such a team and play a vital part in an exciting fast-paced growth environment.
Perhaps the salary and benefits aren’t quite what you need but the other rewards and long-term career potential can most certainly outweigh that. It’s not all about the money!
Top Photo Courtesy: Basement Rejects