Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Social networking and job search 15 – negotiating the compensation package and when to do this

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on November 1, 2009

One of the first things that most job search councilors and advisors will tell you on compensation negotiation is that you never want to start discussing it too early with a hiring manager. It is crucially important that any discussion of what they will do for you, be held off until you have developed a basis for that. That means you have to clearly articulate what you will do for the hiring manager, their service or department and their organization first and you want to do that in a way that brings that hiring manager to see you as their top candidate for doing all this. Then, and only then do you want to start talking money and other features and aspects of your compensation package to be – in context and with the hiring manager already thinking in terms of how much they want to bring you onboard. And even then, you do not want to be the first to raise this topic or propose specific numbers if you can manage that, as the first to raise specific numbers for compensation starts this discussion at a disadvantage.

That is all well and good, and I add that it is good advice to follow. If you have to diverge from it, you want to do so with this strategy in mind too. So if you have to discuss money early do so by proposing a range and by keeping this discussion general and peripheral to the ongoing discussion. But this is still all about the end of a process you need to start much earlier, even if sharing your longer term compensation negotiating efforts with that hiring manager is put off until late in the interviewing process. You still need to build a foundation for this conversation, starting early on that in your search. This posting is about building that foundation so you can do your best when the compensation conversation does come up – whether that is on your terms and according to your ideal timing or not.

What do you most want to do as an A list career opportunity? What would you do as a B or C list opportunity and with a measure of flexibility in your analysis to account for the potential for negotiating up the position?

Research what people get paid for the types of position you are looking for as a basic part of your background research. This has to be done with a focus on the details.
• The same position might command different salaries in different parts of the country depending on general cost of living issues.
• Salary might vary significantly according to work experience and what industries you have worked in as well as your areas of functional expertise and time doing that on the job, professional certifications, etc.
• Find out what criteria the hiring manager are likely to turn to for determining your compensation level and that definitely includes learning as much as you can about the basic salary ranges that are available to the hiring manager. Here, hiring managers are virtually never given the option of offering a new hire a salary at or even too close to the top for their position’s range as that would mean any cost of living or other adjustment would require a promotion. Learn and know the numbers so you can negotiate compensation with a valid understanding of the hiring manager’s thinking and restrictions.

That basic approach should enter into all your compensation package considerations, and that should include non-monetary elements you might want to have added into your compensation package as well as base salary. Extra non-salary components to the compensation package can help the hiring manager by taking the pressure off them to hire too close to the top of their allowed range. And some of the non-salary features can add both improved quality of life for you and carry monetary value for you. The range of possible salary plus add-ons here is as big as your imagination and bigger, so I will simply touch on a few that I have seen work in arriving at a mutually agreeable compensation package and an offer to hire.

• If you have a very long commute, negotiating at least past time work off-site at a closer office or by telecommuting from home.
• Negotiating for flex-time at least certain days of the weeks.
• Negotiating an early start date for health insurance or other delayed-start indirect benefits.
• Negotiating pension plan investiture and start dates for your contributing to a 401K or similar savings plan.
• Negotiating early time off for an already planned family trip.

It is a problem if you enter into a discussion of compensation and in avoidable detail earlier than you have to. Sometimes you have to give a range just to get your foot in the door with a recruiter or other first-cut door keeper, but you always want to wait to go into the details of this until it is the right time. It is a disaster, however, and an avoidable one when you enter those compensation negotiations unprepared.

As a final and very important rule of good negotiations, compensation and otherwise, you never, ever want to leave that hiring interview with an agreement on compensation that you like but that leaves the hiring manager feeling like they have lost an argument. If you do you will loose, and not necessarily right away but with inevitable certainty.

Go for the win-win and do not settle for less.

The next and last segment of this core series is going to go back to job search, working and careers again. I initially planned this series as having a core set of postings and I will finish that, but I add that I intend to post follow-up additions to deal with specialty issues. Two come immediately to mind for me there:

• Resumes and video resumes.
• Networking and information interviewing with an effective negotiations-oriented focus.

7 Responses

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  1. glhoffman said, on November 2, 2009 at 10:48 am

    You might try our new job search engine which only captures jobs ONLY from company websites. Not only is LinkUp a great place for the jobseeker to find a real job (about 70% of the jobs are never advertised elsewhere) but it is also a great place to do opposition research. A company with new plans typically has to hire people for the new area.
    Intersted in your viewpoint on this,


    • Tim Platt said, on November 2, 2009 at 12:42 pm

      Thank you for sharing a link to your new site. I was just on the site doing some test searches and while I did find places where you need further work, the basic idea is good and you have what looks like a helpful job search tool.

      I want to comment on one limitation that searching company online career opportunities listings, and I also want to touch on a detail that I saw mentioned on your home page – the hidden jobs market. One issue I have touched on in my job search postings is that companies do not always place a high priority on keeping their jobs listings up to date on their web sites. You are right that just searching these sources is a good way to bypass the “work at home and make your fortune stuffing envelopes” scams. This is a valuable and important part to any effective search. I would still recommend, however, that an effective search has to rely on networking too, for leads sources and for finding unlisted and not-yet-listed opportunities. Networking to find opportunities is especially true for identifying those “hidden job opportunities” that are not openly listed. If a job was hidden in this way it would not be on the company web site.

      Most of the time these opportunities are for positions that have not fully gelled yet as to what is to be on their responsibilities list, how it is to be paid for as a line item in the budget, the precise level of the position or some criterion that has to be settled on before the job can officially, publically go out as available. I will add that I have also heard of jobs remaining hidden because the people already doing them do not know they are to be replaced. The point is that these positions are probably not going to show in a company career opportunities listing – at least while still “hidden.” But saying that, I have to add that company and the hiring manager do want to hire for these positions, and generally just as much as they do for the more clarified and public ones. So if the right person comes along they might very well simply proceed from there and hire.

      And one other important issue for tapping into networking for identifying great opportunities also has to be mentioned. Responsibilities lists showing in job listings rarely offer insight as to which features are high-priority and which ones are considered relatively unimportant. Networking can help you make a more educated guess on this at the very least. So networking can also help with the open job market positions too.

      Thank you again for sharing this link and good luck with your new venture.

  2. Bobby said, on November 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    Good info. I’d also recommend as a resource to find out about a particular company’s salaries, work environment, and interview process. Very, very helpful.

    • Tim Platt said, on November 2, 2009 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you Bobby, for sharing as a job search tool. You both share a valuable resource and bring up a good point or two. First, there are some very good web sites out there for standardized, centralized job search research. It is important to indentify the ones that are most appropriate to your types of search, according to industry, geographic and other criteria where specialization is an issue. Second, you do not generally have to do the type of due diligence as to possible personal biases or preconceptions that individual networking contacts can bring to the table when sharing information of work environment, compensation package competitiveness, and so on. It is important to tap into a range of resources and yes, cross-check them to see where there might be congruence or disagreement.

      Sites like are of real value in this and I add a three more to this with: has a salary calculator

  3. […] This is also a place where effective negotiating skills come into play as very important to you. And that definitely includes timing issues for when you discuss anything like possible job constraints. […]

  4. […] 14 – Effectively Negotiating Up the Job Level. • 15 – Negotiating the Compensation Package and When to Do This. • 20 – Taking a Negotiations Approach to Your Search from the Early Stages […]

  5. […] 14 – Effectively Negotiating Up the Job Level. • 15 – Negotiating the Compensation Package and When to Do This. • 20 – Taking a Negotiations Approach to Your Search from the Early Stages […]

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