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Salary, Benefits & Job Offer Questions

Can I win in a salary negotiation with my boss and not sacrifice our relationship?

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When negotiating your salary, remember that a win-win outcome for you and your employer is essential. You do not want to lose and have the employer limit your income. However, if you win and the employer loses, you may lose more than expected. An initial victory may gain you a few extra dollars, but not worth the price it could costs you in the end - a possible relationship loss with your boss or having a damaging effect on your career. Often when an employer loses and/or feels manipulated into providing a raise, the employer wins back a victory by limiting your next promotion or discretionary bonus. You can’t be a winner if your boss feels like a loser.

Remember that negotiating a pay increase, based on your personal economic need, is not a good position to take with an employer. To get the most from a salary negotiation, it is important to conduct adequate research on the job position to find out what the position is worth in your area (i.e. fair market value). You can do this research on the Internet, at the library, or through your professional trade association. The architectural, engineering and construction industries have several good compensation consultants who can help assist you with your research. Once you understand what the true value is for the position, you should bring your results to the negotiation table as a basis to work from.

Prepare to recite a list of your skills, talents, achievements and knowledge to justify your economic value to the employer. Address your value to the firm in terms which state specifics (i.e. clients secured, money saved from managing budgets and schedules, programs implemented to improve work efficiencies, dollars saved in negotiations with suppliers, etc.). Make sure you have a copy of your most recent performance review and any letters of recommendations from superiors or clients.

Although it is always preferred to have your employer offer the first salary figure as a solution to your current situation, ultimately you may be required to propose the figure you desire. It is important to propose a figure somewhat higher than what you expect to receive. Most employers will have a budget range which starts with an offer at the lower end of their budget in order to give them room for negotiating.

If the construction employer simply cannot afford to pay you the salary you require, be creative by suggesting other forms of compensation. Some areas to include might be regarding additional forms of compensation (i.e. car allowance, gas reimbursement, stock options, equity in the firm, sign-on or guaranteed bonuses, 3 month performance and salary reviews, more vacation days, flex time, profit sharing, etc.).

In the end, you want to work out a compromise that makes the employer feel good about the negotiation, and save the hard-ball negotiating for your suppliers. Employers are suspect of executives who seem overly concerned about money and, at the same time, willing to sacrifice good will to get it.

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