Huge Advantages of Negotiating Salary

Posted on January 27, 2009 @ 2:23 am
by Trevor Davide Grant

The most significant impact a person can have on their long term career earnings is to engage in salary negotiating early in their career. This will have a direct impact on the amount of earning potential they have in their future.

This should be considered whether it is a first job out of school or a mid-career job change. Beyond that, there are impacts even when you are working for an employer that you are very happy with. Not engaging in salary negotiation at the right time can have real financial impact.

During your career, you may earn pay raises and job advances within the company that you work for, but when the company offers regularly scheduled increases, as many companies do, the impact of your starting salary with that employer is significant.

This not only applies to your first salary and subsequent incremental raises but also to salary market differentials when you changes roles within a company. You may move into a job requiring significantly more responsibility or effort, but the salary you had beforehand can influence the starting salary of the new job.

Take for example a person starting a new job as a business analyst in a software company somewhere in the US. Say for example that person begins with a starting salary of $45,000. Most likely that person will have to put in 6 months to a full year before they are offered their first pay increase. Suppose it is a 10% pay raise which would be SIGNIFICANT in many companies. The employee would gain an additional $4500 per year because of that increase.

Suppose that same person started at $55,000 or more. That same pay hike of 10% would provide the same employee $5500 additional salary per year. With the first salary band, the employee would still be under the $50,000 mark after one full year of effort and after a 10% pay increase, while in the second situation the employee would be at over $60,000 a year after a 10% pay increment.

Imagine the compound impact of these two starting salaries on the person’s earning potential. First let’s examine a four year timeline, all other things being equal (that is, assuming no pay raises and no promotions). The employee earning $45,000 will have earned $180K in gross salary in four years. The person earning $55K will have earned $220,000 in 4 years. That is a $40,000 difference just because of where the person started in terms of salary.

Introduce a ten percent raise after year 1 and consider the impact as the person moves through their career. The person with a most salary in the beginning will always be ahead of the person with the lower starting salary, all things being equal (i.e. identical job, identical job performance). The person with the higher salary will be getting ahead faster than the person starting with the lower salary. This impact multiplies with each coming year assuming the same annual percentage pay raise for each.

When requesting a pay increase, if a person earning $50,000 earns a 5% raise without negotiating anything additional, that’s okay. But consider the impact if the person negotiates a 15% increase because they have really performed well in the job and they have all the supporting research and a track record to command it. That employee will have negotiated $7,500 in a raise versus just accepting $2500. Multiply that by 10 years, and there is a clear $50,000 difference in the person’s salary potential.

Many experts suggest that it is better to try negotiating a raise or an improvement to the compensation package than to simply receive the package that is offered. The first offer is often the lowest offer and can be improved with salary negotiation. This negotiation must be done with care and must be well based with a supporting case for the difference.

One must also analyze factors such as market, corporate guidelines, and personal performance. However when done well, it can really pay off. Remember to consider the value of all factors of compensation when asking for a raise. Some people truly value free time, their quality of life, while others are willing to take a chance and maybe accept stock options in lieu of pay.

However, when it comes to salary negotiation, don’t be afraid to consider asking for more salary.

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