The vast majority of companies conduct performance reviews at the end of the year, and base merit increases and promotions on those reviews. Salary negotiations can and should be a part of those reviews, from both the company’s and the employee’s perspective.
In addition, companies also make decisions on whether or not to hire additional employees at the beginning of the new year. Decisions will be made on salary ranges.
It's a fact of life in today's economy that employers and hiring managers have many people applying for each job opening. Budgets are squeezed, so salary offerings can be lower than they were a few years ago.
But both candidates for new jobs and current employees can help their own cause in salary negotiations. Here are a few tips:
· It pays to know the value of the position applied for. If the skill set needed for this particular job is very unique, a higher salary will be available, because there won't be that many qualified candidates. But if the skill set for this particular job is readily available, the salary will be much lower. Know the score going in.
· Highlight experience and job knowledge. Whether the skill set is unique or ordinary, a good job candidate demonstrates what they accomplished in a similar position in the past. If a job candidate can show how they helped reduce costs at their last job, they will have the ear of the hiring manager.
· It's important for a job candidate to come across as calm and comfortable during the interview and subsequent negotiations. Many recruiters suggest that a job candidate act as if they already have the job. The approach taken should be comfortable and relaxed, but still professional.
· Know about the position and the company. One way to gain the confidence of a hiring manager is to know what he/she is looking for. That includes what the position entails, what skills are required, and what the market demand is for this type of work.
· Be flexible about compensation. The company may be under severe budget constraints even though they are hiring. A job candidate has to be cautious not to price themselves out of the market. If the salary offered is lower, a job candidate can ask about the potential for future advancement, and how opportunities can be realized.
· Be flexible about the work schedule. Sometimes the hours and/or days are not exactly what a job candidate had in mind, or even what they need. Be flexible. Other opportunities may arise in a short time period.
· Show excitement and enthusiasm about the position, even if it is less than desirable. If a job candidate is being interviewed for a job they are overqualified for, it could be that the hiring manager is looking to the future. Many job candidates are hired for a spot two rungs up the ladder. Show a positive attitude regardless of the job level.
· A job candidate has to know what their required minimum is. Depending on an individual's circumstances, some candidates will take any job at any salary. Others have to determine if they actually lose money taking a job versus being on unemployment.
· There are alternatives to straight cash. Many companies try to soften the blow of a low starting salary by offering other options. Can the job be done working from home 1-2 days per week? Can the job be done off-hours, or when it is more convenient? Many hiring managers are open to ideas that make for a win-win situation.
· Know ahead of time what the bottom line is. A job candidate has to know what the minimum is they can accept -- for pay, number of work hours, how many days a week, etc. The time for indecision is not sitting in a hiring manager's office.
The rules have changed in today's job market. Hiring managers have many options available to them, especially in the sheer numbers of people looking for work.
Not so much for job candidates. With unemployment hovering between 9-10 percent both locally and nationally, those looking for work need to be realistic about the job market and salary conditions.
Some good upfront investigative work, plus a little determination, can help job candidates maximize their salary options when they do find that opening.