Monday, November 19, 2012

Show Me the Money: Notes from the Salary Negotiation Panel

By Angela Sun

Last Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend the Salary Negotiation Workshop hosted by Tufts Career Center in Dowling Hall.

(If you're thinking, "Who? What? How wasn't I there?" Then remember to regularly check our e-calendar for our upcoming events!)

The workshop was in the form of a panel moderated by Bob Burdick of the UEP Program. Panelists included:
  • Jennifer Antle, College Recruiter at Liberty Mutual,
  • Lisa DiTullio, A11 (Psychology), Human Resources Associate at Reit Management & Research LLC
  • John Hurley, Human Resources Business Partner at Americas Sales, and Formerly Talent Acquisition Manager and Worldwide College Relations Manager at Analog Devices,
  • Jessica Yu, College Recruiting and Student Program Manager  at The MITRE Corporation.
  • and Rachael Wolber, A12 (IR and Environmental Studies)Grant Writer at the Appalachian Mountain Club
In case you missed the event, here are my notes from the event. You know what they say, a dollar negotiated is a dollar earned. 

When should I negotiate my salary?
The answer is pretty much always... if the salary is negotiable that is. There may be situations in which salary is not negotiable. For example, one of the career center counselors mentioned that many recruiters from consulting firms do not negotiate entry-level salaries. So ask if the salary is negotiable first! 

Now if the salary is negotiable, you should always negotiate simply because if you don't, the chances of getting more money is zero, so you really have nothing to lose. For some organizations, your promotions will be a percentage increase on your starting salary, so this number could have implications beyond just your first year/ employment period. 

"Often times you can pick up cues from employers as to when to bring up salary negotiation"--Hurley. 

"Though I didn't, I probably should have negotiated for my first salary. I was an intern, I knew the people, knew the company, etc."--DiTullio.

How much should I ask for?
I would direct you first to this fantastic post on our blog about where to go to research salary ranges for a reasonable expectation. With websites like etc., take everything you read with a grain of salt because the information on the site is not verified. In addition to the resources suggested in the post, I would add that networking with professionals in the field or even the firm is another great way to get reliable information!

"Rapport is really important, building a relationship with the HR recruiter through the interview process made the negotiation process much more comfortable and allowed me to get more information." -- Wolber.

"For most firms, there is in fact an approved 'range'. Look at what other people, with similar experiences as you, get in the company"--DiTullio.

How to negotiate?
You are much more likely to be successful if you can back up your number with why you should be paid that amount. Solid bargaining points include realistic costs like reallocation (not loans, those are your own responsibility!) or any special skills/ experiences to the table.

"We worked with a candidate because he had legitimate costs like reallocation to factor in. Though we did not change the initial offer, we made sure that the numbers made sense for him in terms of the full package, including compensation, etc."

"Solid work experience is an important bargaining chip. College graduates sometimes must be realistic about the fact that they might have less to work with, even if they did internships."-- Antle.

"Don't ask for money just because you 'want' more. If you are honest and confident, you will be heard out. But salary negotiation is different from shopping, it's important to stay reasonable, rather than throw out really high numbers in hope of being met in the middle."--Yu.

"I have never been offended by someone negotiating who could back up their number."--Hurley.

How much time do I have to negotiate?
This factor will range from firm to firm, depending on when you are given the offer. Most likely, you will not have a lot of time to respond, this could be only a few hours or a few make sure you do your research prior to receiving an offer.

"If a candidate was hired in August the previous year, then I might give him or her a couple of months, but if the candidate was hired in May, the maybe only a couple of weeks."--Antle.

What are some pitfalls in the process?

Asking for way too much money is obviously a key one. But miscommunication can also result in an unpleasant experience!

"Sometimes a deal just doesn't happen because the gap in expectations is too great"--DiTullio.

"Be consistent in your communication. It's bad form if I don't hear from a candidate for a really long time, and then all of a sudden hear from them again." --Antle. 

"Have one point of contact only on the issue. Nothing is more frustrating if I am negotiating with you, and you go to another person in the company to try to play us against each other."--Hurley.

The last piece of advice I would offer you is to look at salary negotiation from the employers point of view. 

"We are not out to low ball you! If we bring you on board at a salary that is out of the norm, then we must also justify our decision to other employees. You were given an offer because we genuinely want to bring you on the team."--Yu

"Firm to firm is different. When I was at PwC, there wasn't much negotiation for starting salary because we hired a lot of college grads to do the same thing. But at a smaller company, that flexibility might exist."

"You tell me. How will you make an impact/ contribution to the team at my company? What are you trying to achieve? Start by being introspective."--Hurley.