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Negotiating Your Compensation – Part Three

By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC

When it comes to compensation negotiation, there is a lot to say and a lot to learn! Therefore, this article is divided into three sections. Part Three is below. Parts One and Two are featured on our Career Advice Articles page.

Everything’s Negotiable

(Everything? Yes, everything!) Including:

  • Salary (always finalize first!)
  • Insurance (life, medical, dental, disability)
  • Vacation Time
  • Office Location
  • Retirement Plans
  • Relocation Assistance
  • Training Allowances
  • Work Space
  • Bonuses (sign-on and performance)
  • Commission Rates
  • Expense Accounts
  • Memberships and Dues
  • Accelerated Reviews
  • Stock Options
  • Profit Sharing
  • Company Car or Auto Allowance
  • Home Purchase or Mortgage Assistance
  • Outplacement Assistance
  • Flex-Time
  • And more …

The employer will give you anything you ask for – if they want you badly enough. And it’s your job to sell yourself so effectively that they decide they have to have you!

Now, let’s discuss the real value of an offer.

When an offer is extended to you, it’s very important that you know what the offer really is – and what it isn’t. Many people make poor decisions about job offers because they misunderstand the package! So, let’s take look at a simple example:

Let’s say you’ve just received an offer for a base salary of $50,000. But you’re used to earning a base of, say, $70,000 – with little or no benefits. So you say, “I’m not taking that job; the pay is too low!” But did you take the time to analyze the whole story? Look at this:

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Can you see now, that you would have been foolish to turn down this offer?

Another mistake that many people make when they’re negotiating compensation is that they tie their old salary to their new or anticipated salary. This can be deadly.

The assumptions go something like this:

– I’m out of work, so I’ll be lucky to get any job that pays what I was earning before … or even close to my old salary

and …

– The job market is tougher than it was when I got my last job, so I’ll have to settle for a lower salary

and …

– If I can get a good job paying even 5% more than before, I’ll be thrilled!

What do all these comments have in common? They are all based on the assumption that your old salary is somehow connected to the new or anticipated salary – but it is not!

That’s right. There is no connection, no relationship of any kind!

How can I make such a bold statement? Because I have worked with so many clients who have successfully added 25, 50 even 100% to their salaries by switching to jobs that were a much better fit!

At your old job, a $50,000 salary may have been appropriate for the value you brought to your employer, at least in their eyes. But what if you got a different job where the fit was nearly perfect – with a new company, at a different time, offering a different product or service, in a different business culture and environment, in a new industry, and so on? What then?

Let me illustrate with a brief story …

A client I worked with recently named Robert had been working at a software development firm, with a salary of about $70,000. He was dissatisfied with his compensation and was looking around for a better opportunity. He did a lot of networking, pursued a very active job search, and eventually got an interview with a wonderful company right in his area. He found out that their specific needs, goals and challenges almost directly mirrored his specific skills and accomplishments. This turned into a very interesting interview, which lasted a full 2-1/2 hours! By the end of the interview, Robert knew he was onto something! They agreed to meet again the following morning. By the time Robert got to the second meeting, the interviewer had already drawn-up an agreement and was practically begging Robert to join the organization. Why? Again, because his skills, accomplishments and achievements directly matched that employer’s greatest needs, problems and challenges. Not only that, but the salary the employer was offering almost knocked Robert off his chair. It was twice the amount he was used to earning! That’s right – a base salary of $140,000. Not a bad payday for Robert!

“Fit” is a very small word – only three letters. But it’s actually the biggest word in the entire salary negotiation game! Why? Because, as I indicated before, you will be paid according to how well your contributions fit the needs of your new employer. Find a perfect fit, where the need is greatest, and you’ll be paid that much more!

What constitutes “fit” in a new job? Here are just a few of the relevant criteria:

  • Compensation
  • Location
  • Industry
  • Product or Service
  • Headquarters or Remote
  • Size or Revenues
  • Reputation or Prestige
  • Pace
  • Formal or Informal
  • People and Relationships
  • Physical Environment
  • Culture
  • Values and Mission
  • And more …

As you can see, “Fit” is A Small Word of Major Importance! You must know your priorities!

In closing, I’d like to mention a few extremely important factors, which will directly impact the results of your negotiations. Those factors are your own.

Attitude and Assumptions

I’ve already outlined several areas where your assumptions can limit your options, and where your attitude can get you into trouble.

What I’ve learned in all my years as a Career Coach is that:

“80% of the outcome of your salary negotiations will be determined by your attitude and assumptions.”

Let me say that again … because it’s so important.

“80% of the outcome of your salary negotiations will be determined by your attitude and assumptions.”

I urge you to take a hard look at your own thinking patterns, and make adjustments wherever you might be holding yourself back!

Now you know the rules of the compensation negotiation game. And as with any game, you need to practice in order to get good at it. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Keep at it until you master the game!

I have also provided many of the techniques and tips – even the specific words and phrases you’ll need – to command the salary you truly deserve. And this is not just about getting a bump in salary for your next job. Leveraging these negotiation skills can make a difference of hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars in income over the life of your career!

If you ask me, that should be motivation enough to take this subject of compensation negotiation very seriously – and to make the commitment to mastering the rules of the game!

About the Author:
Ford R. Myers is an award-winning career coach and President of Career Potential, LLC. He is author of the best-seller, Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring. Ford’s firm helps clients take charge of their careers, create the work they love, and earn what they deserve! He has held senior consulting positions at three of the nation’s largest career service firms. Ford’s articles have appeared in thousands of publications and web sites, and he has been interviewed on every major television and radio network. Ford has also conducted presentations at hundreds of companies, associations and universities. Learn more at

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