Career Corner: Negotiating a starting salary
This question can be a candidate's nightmare especially if you haven't put any previous thought into it. Setting your sights too high may put you out of the running and answering with a salary too low may mean you don't have enough to live on.
Being prepared, just as they taught you in scouting, is likely the best answer to most situations so doing research on starting salaries will help you answer this often asked question. It may surprise you to know that many employers are used to negotiation once they've made an initial offer and expect to receive counter offers from job candidates regarding pay and benefits.
A job offer is much more than a conversation with an employer, or a piece of paper with terms and some numbers written on it. A job offer represents a major life change from the one you've been used to. Remember you will be spending 40 — 60 hours each week at work therefore it obviously helps if you like what you do. To consider the value of the job offer, consider the company's reputation and their products, the level of responsibility of your new position and whether it matches your personal needs and if you will be comfortable working for this company. To arrive at a figure amount you must be able to assess the value of the job offer and the value of your skills.
Before you begin salary negotiation you will need to calculate what kind of salary is reasonable to expect. Remember not to confuse how much pay you are offered with your personal worth. To calculate a reasonable starting salary, be willing to do some homework. Visit the Career Services Office in Room F2010 and ask to see the consultant responsible for your program. They have access to program data on average starting salaries for Fanshawe graduates. Compare job listings for your program which are posted online by Fanshawe's Career Services (www.fanshawec.ca/careerservices) with other advertisements either online through other job posting websites or in the newspaper. There are a multitude of online resources to assist you with this endeavour. Check with professional associations in your field to see if they publish a salary survey or call employment agencies or placement firms to seek their input.
Having a salary range in mind is a better way to negotiate than stating a fixed salary. For example, if once you've done your homework and determined that $30,000 is typical pay for the work you'd be doing and more than enough to get started paying the bills, negotiate for a desired salary in the range of $28,000 to $35,000. This gives the employer a range of $5,000 to $7,000 from which to consider when negotiating with you.
By doing your homework ahead of time you'll know what is both fair for the position based on your skills and abilities and what will meet your needs. Even if you end up on the lower end of your desired range don't forget that most companies offer perks and benefits which include coverage for dental and medical expenses as well as company pension plans and life insurance. Putting a dollar figure to these benefits is often difficult, but usually represents an amount equivalent to 30% of your salary.
Need assistance? Why not drop by the Career Services office in Room F2010. The Career Services staff are available to assist you on an individual basis. Visit the office to arrange an appointment with the consultant responsible for your program or call 452-4294