You’re interviewing for your dream job, and everything has been smooth sailing so far. You nailed the first interview, and you’re anxious and excited to meet the rest of the team. Your phone rings, and it’s the recruiter who initially contacted you about the position. He has great news - you’re the top candidate so far, and he is calling to schedule your final interview!
Then, he asks the question you knew was coming, but you’re always unsure of how to handle…
“Talk me through your current and desired compensation package…”
This is a question that we have all been asked during an interview process. A lot of us may think of our “compensation package” solely as our base salary plus any additional bonuses or commissions that we may receive, but there are other factors that we should all consider when negotiating with a potential employer. Here are 5 things you should keep top-of-mind during your negotiations:
- Don’t forget about benefits! Your benefits package is a HUGE part of your overall compensation. Be sure to review the medical benefits being offered, as well as 401k plans, vacation policies, and extras such as Flexible Spending Accounts. Compare your current benefits plan to the one you are being offered. Take out the good old calculator and figure out how much more (or less!) you will be spending monthly if you switch plans. These are all key factors to note throughout your negotiations.
- What about the COMMUTE? Always ask about commuter benefits as many companies do offer them but may not mention them upfront. A nice commuter benefit just might make that commute you’re potentially dreading a bit easier to swallow.
- Growth, Growth, Growth! Compare the responsibilities and growth potential that you have in your current role to what is being offered in your new role. Say you’re looking for an additional $10k in your base salary to make a move to another company. In your current role, you feel stagnant and like there’s not a lot of room for you to branch out and grow your skillset. The potential employer you are considering is only offering you a $5k bump in your base salary. If, however, you have the potential to be promoted within 6 to 12 months in your new role, this promotion will not ONLY mean an additional bump in salary, it will also give you the opportunity to grow your skills and build your resume. How long will it take to ramp up? These are all things to consider. It’s not “all about that base” ALL the time, ladies and gentlemen!
- Culture makes all the difference. Part of the interview process in many companies involves spending some time in the office with the team you’d be working with. Take this interview step very seriously. If it’s not part of the process, ask for it! Think about it – is it REALLY worth it to make $10k additional and be completely miserable every day? A lot of us spend more time with our colleagues these days than we do with our own families! To some it may be worth it – to others, a positive and challenging culture counts for a bit of that salary.
- Flexibility matters! How important is work/life balance to you? And what are you willing to sacrifice for a new opportunity if it means a heftier paycheck? It’s a candidate’s market right now, and for many people, work/life balance is an extremely important part of one’s compensation package. If this sounds like you, and you’re being offered some flexibility that you may not currently have, take this into account when making a decision.
To sum it up, your compensation package doesn’t always translate to a dollar amount. Make sure you are thinking about all aspects of the opportunity (benefits, commute, growth, culture, and flexibility) before you talk numbers. Ask as many questions as you can during the interview process, and make sure the recruiter gets you all of the information you need. When it comes to compensation discussions, preparation is power.
Jill Barlow and Amanda Paga are corporate recruiters at Celerity. For more information about our job openings, visit our Careers page.