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One of the things that always surprise me is how many people don’t think of job compensation as related to their specific experience and capabilities. Instead, they look at the title and compare what they are being offered solely to what other employers offer.
For any given job, there is a wide pay range that is based on the job’s scope and description. An assistant to the company’s chairman in one company can be paid absolutely a minimum wage while in another, this person can be paid a top salary for keeping taking top responsibilities and duties.
The point is: Whenever you’re applying for a job or negotiating a job offer, do more than a cursory look at the pay scale on the internet. Even asking your friends and contacts who work in similar positions may be misleading if their background, experience and individual abilities don’t match yours.
To be able to come up with realistic compensation demands, you will need to keep the following in mind.
Do a thorough research on companies of similar size and find any vacancies within these companies that match the job you’re applying for. This will require that you familiarise yourself with the employer’ market first. Typically a smaller company will not be able to match top-market salary, but that is not always the case. In fact, many small companies keep a tight circle of well-paid professionals who can set it for success.
Many jobs won’t involve any discussions about money until later stages, which means that you will be able to get better visibility about the employer’s status and financial abilities through the interviewing process.
You need to know where the job falls on the company’s hierarchy. In one company a marketing manager is a top position, while in another there are several higher management positions (vice president for marketing, marketing director, etc) that take away from the general manager’s authority and scope of responsibility. Knowing where the position falls in the company will help you also decide if the move is good professionally or not — or at least if you’re making a conscious decision regarding the move.
Once you find out more about the company’s structure and the importance of the role, you will be able to understand the scope of responsibilities and how it translates into money. Again, take into consideration the level of the job and the exact role you will be playing rather than the mere title.
Your previous salary
Unfortunately, many employers will try to base your salary on what you previously received. They will ask for a salary history and probably grant a raise on top. Although that is a common practice, it doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate your way out of it. While you still may have to give an accurate background of your pay, you may argue that money is a big reason that you’re changing jobs. You also may say that you’re looking for a fair compensation on par with the market salary.
Having a thorough knowledge and some comparable positions in mind can help you negotiate a better deal. Job candidates who only argue that they just need more money hardly make a point with an employer. You also can ask to be on par with other employees in similar positions — that is if you know that they compensation may be acceptable to you.
Regardless to what a job pay, you must be able to live with this salary. So if you’re asked to specify a salary range and you totally are lost about what to say, mention what you can live with. Don’t sell yourself too short to get the job, because you won’t be able to accept the salary and this will end up a wasted opportunity.
That is not to say that you should stay the absolutely lowest compensation, on which you can survive. No, what you want to state is the range that is acceptable to you given your experience, social status and life expectations. Many people, for example, find it hard to accept a lower salary with a new job, although some may do so to get their foot in the door.
The bottom line: Know your priorities to be able to keep the job — if you get it — for the long run.
Rania Oteify, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
Get the right salary
* Research the company’s resources and status
* Know your requirements
* Understand the position scope rather than title
* Negotiate based on merit
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News