A Conversation About Compensation

Conversations around compensation can be intimidating, but they don’t have to be! Hear from our experts about how to approach conversations regarding salary and benefits with tact and confidence.

Where to Start

While it’s vital to advocate for the value of your time, make sure that you’re advocating to put yourself in a role where you will thrive. Dean, Hiring Expert at Archer Daniels Midland, shares, “Compensation only goes so far to inspire you to work to the best of your capability. You should be in a role that you truly enjoy where you’re passionate about what you do… You need to enjoy what you do to be the best you can be.” If you’re in the hiring process for a job that’s a great fit, congrats! Now is the time to make sure you are being compensated fairly. More from Dean.

Make sure that you are informed and self-aware as you approach salary negotiations. Traci, Hiring Expert at Accenture points out, “If you have applied and interviewed as an undergrad and will be entering your career field at entry-level, it can be difficult to determine what would be fair compensation… Be careful not to negotiate for something you don’t know you are qualified for. If you have done your research and have examples of higher salaries being offered for similar positions, at similar organizations, in similar geographic locations, by all means, bring it up if your offer is not on par.” More from Traci.

Before wading into negotiations, Beamer, Hiring Expert at Textron Inc., advises that you “Keep in mind what the total compensation will be. There are tangible and intangible factors besides money that contribute to your experience working for a company. For instance, free gym access, flexible scheduling, advancement opportunities, company stability, etc. are all factors to consider.” If you are choosing between multiple job offers, consider these additional benefits when you’re comparing compensation. Beamer points out that, “Salary alone is typically not what keeps employees engaged in their jobs.” More from Beamer.

Do Your Homework

Once you’ve made the decision to ask for a higher salary, Katelyn, Hiring Expert at Avery Dennison Corporation, suggests you do some research. She says, “I would recommend using a salary generating website, like salary.com, which allows you to see what others are earning on average in your field. You can list specific criteria, such as years of experience, education level, industry, geographical location, and other details relevant to the position. This will help you have some information to bring to the negotiation table, showing that you have done your research and you are aware of what the market rate is for that position.” More from Katelyn.

Keep in mind that it’s a very normal part of the hiring process to ask if there is any room for negotiation in your salary offer. Cassie, Hiring Expert at The Hershey Company, explains, “It is best to work with Human Resources on this topic rather than the Hiring Manager if you have that option. If you discussed compensation with your recruiter earlier in your hiring process you can remind them of your previous conversation and ask if there is any room to negotiate salary. The recruiter should know if they can offer a bit more, or if they have presented the best offer possible.” More from Cassie.

Be Confident and Gracious

Stephanie, Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., provides some insight from her own experience negotiating for a higher salary. She shares, “I went in prepared to speak on my work, my experience, my expertise, my unique skill set, and what was competitive in the market place… It made a difference. People can feel your confidence.” More from Stephanie.

Tact and a well-researched response to a salary offer will go a long way to reduce awkwardness or tension in a conversation that can be stressful to approach. If you are offered a compensation package that feels inadequate, Nell, Hiring Expert at Pitney Bowes, advises, “When countering an offer; do not make the counter unrealistic, this could potentially damage your reputation before you start with a company.” More from Nell.

There’s a chance that a company won’t be able to offer you the salary that you need. Nell, Hiring Expert at Pitney Bowes, explains how to handle this situation in a positive way, saying, “Always, always, always be grateful and gracious about the offer. Even if it’s the worst pay you’ve ever been offered, they still chose you! Ultimately, if you do turn down the position because of compensation, do it gracefully. You never want to burn bridges because they may have something else for you in the future that does meet your compensation requirements.” More from Nell.

Being appropriately compensated for your work is important for your wellbeing and longevity in a new company. Approaching negotiations can be intimidating, but ultimately finding the right career fit where you feel appreciated and proud of what you earn is worth the time and effort.

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