Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby Jrod » September 12th, 2011, 5:38 pm


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Hi All -

I've done a bit of reading of past threads pertaining to the topic of salary negotiation and found a lot of great information, but have a few questions of my own that I would appreciate hearing back from the design community on.

I wanted to touch upon a few things, firstly, certain situations during salary negotiation and how to go about them. Secondly, expenses to factor in for determining the cost of living in a new area.

-If a job description states a certain salary range. Does this mean that the salary is set in stone?

-If a prospective employer makes an offer that is in line with your expectations / needs, do you take the offer with out negotiating? Or do you ask for more, no matter the offer? (I'm asking this because the people I've talked to have suggested asking for 3-5k extra no matter the offer, but I feel at some point you should just be happy with the offer, am I correct or wrong?)

-Is it smart to present a document stating all of your expected expenses? Or would you just state the desired salary?

-If there are other job offers on the table, is it beneficial to bring them up?

-To help with determining the cost of living I am putting together an excel document to calculate my monthly/yearly expenses

-If I am missing any costs that should be factored in, I would greatly appreciate the input.

COST OF LIVING -

LIVING -
Rent
Food (Groceries)
Dining Out
Clothing
Hair Cut
Furniture / Kitchen Stuff

UTILITIES -
Electricity
Heat / Hot Water
Cable
Internet

TRANSPORTATION
Car Payment
Fuel
Maintenance
Public Transit

MISC -
401k Savings
Student Loans
Unexpected Expenses


I greatly appreciate the input from everyone! Cheers.

Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby NURB » September 12th, 2011, 7:31 pm

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Jrod wrote:-If a job description states a certain salary range. Does this mean that the salary is set in stone?

-If a prospective employer makes an offer that is in line with your expectations / needs, do you take the offer with out negotiating? Or do you ask for more, no matter the offer? (I'm asking this because the people I've talked to have suggested asking for 3-5k extra no matter the offer, but I feel at some point you should just be happy with the offer, am I correct or wrong?)


Salary range is probably on the lower end of what they're willing to pay for the right candidate. No one wants to pay more than they have to for employees who are as yet unproven.

As for accepting a first offer, there's nothing wrong with doing it. But, its a completely personal decision based on your relationship with your future employer. If it's a place you want to work, and you're happy with the offer, why not take it? Asking for extra after a particularly friendly interview might leave a bad taste in their mouth. If you feel like they've given you a low but acceptable offer, there's no harm in asking for more. It's totally circumstantial, though.
Chris Haar

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Those who define design as knowing how to use Illustrator will be condemned to using Illustrator their entire career. - @Mike_FTW

Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby yo » September 12th, 2011, 8:01 pm

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I like to think of their high end of the stated range as the midpoint of the actual range...

Definitely don't submit a document of your expenses. That has no bearing. What does have bearing is how much value you bring to the organization... why should they pay you higher than their stated range? Not because your student loans are bigger, but because you can do more than the next guy in terms of quality work, adding to the team, adding to the environment, bringing in outside inspiration, resources, knowledge, contacts... Demonstrate that.

Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby rkuchinsky » September 12th, 2011, 8:02 pm

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1. A salary range in a job posting is probably what they want to pay, not that they might pay more for the right person. I don't think however you should overthink it an assume they are low-balling. It wouldn't serve them well to post a salary too low as it wouldn't get the talent they might need.

2. As NURB said, if the offer is good, why ask for a tiny bit more just for the sake of asking?

3. Your expenses are you problem. They could care less if you spend all your money on McDonald's or crack and hookers as long as you do your job.

4. If you have a firm offer, you can bring it up. If not, and not firm (ie. in writing) don't bring it up as you could shoot yourself in the foot, and they might just say, "fine, go take that one". You never know their position, if they have others already lined up, with offers, etc.

5. Expenses-wise don't forget the one that is usually a big factor for young designers - entertainment (ie. beer money). Probably as much as food ;)

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Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby JDiephuis » September 13th, 2011, 2:05 am


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Agreed. Especially if you are at the beginning of your career (1-3 years into the job market) I would hold off on being too agressive with your salary negotiation...UNLESS you do in-fact have another solid job offer in writing from another company.

The expense document is a good place to estimate your life-style expenditures, however as YO mentioned it has no bearing to an employer. Perhaps the most important question ask yourself is; Do I want to work here? So you probably need to decide if you actually want to work for this potential employer and also try think beyond just the offer in front of you, understand how it will help you grow as a designer.

If this is a position that you can learn something new from, and gain new insights or a new/unique perspective, then it may very well help you in the future (perhaps 3+ years later) when you are ready to move on to the next chapter in your chosen profession. At that time you may be able to negotiate a higher salary and possibly ask for more/better benefits.

Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby Jrod » September 13th, 2011, 8:13 am


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My apologies if my original post came across as arrogant. This was not my intention. I feel as though there has been a great deal of talking done in other threads about what to do if on the bottom end of a salary negotiation, but not a lot of discussion for dealing with the high end. In the long run I am trying to gain a better understanding for this process as this is something that will come up at least a few times in my career; as with everyone else's.

@NURB - I agree with all that you've stated. My concern with asking for more on a good offer was upsetting them. My interview went very well and I loved the team / environment / work load / responsibilities discussed. I'm not looking to nickel and dime anyone, just to get a fair market value for the skills I have acquired/bring to the table.

@YO - Thank you for your insights. So it sounds like my positioning needs to be more in line with how they'll benefit. This is helpful as we have discussed my skills and which ones that are needed for this particular role. I appreciate the feedback!

@RKUCHINSKY - Thanks for touching on the bit about salary range. I don't think they are necessary low-balling, I guess I'm just trying to figure out where in the spectrum I fall. It sounds like the document of expenses I have put together is best suited for helping me evaluate what the lowest possible salary I could take. I think the biggest reason for this question is that there is relocation involved and I did not want to accept without trying to figure out if it is possible to live a reasonable life style there. I did manage to factor is beer!! I filed that under "Dining Out." But I do enjoy a good micro-brew.

Unfortunately I don't run on Adonis DNA or Tiger blood like Charlie Sheen. So I'll let him party hard with 8-balls and hookers. :wink:

@JDiephuis - I think the positions I have interviewed for each bring different areas that provide great learning and growth as a designer. And with company "A" that I have interviewed at, we have talked everything from a start date to living in the area and job responsibilities except for salary. I feel as though they might have left this one to the very last in order to find out if my desire for the job is based on money or based of my passion for the type of product they work on, and I'd say I am incredibly passionate about the type of product they work on, just looking to reach a salary that both sides can be happy with. I'll take some more time to think over the pro's and con's that come with the positions and figure out if they align with my career goals.

Thanks again everyone, this is greatly appreciated!

Re: Salary Negotiation / Cost of Living

Postby dkorr » September 13th, 2011, 10:37 am


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-If a job description states a certain salary range. Does this mean that the salary is set in stone?
>> from a corporate POV the salary range is researched by HR personnel (i.e. using glassdoor, core77, salary.com,etc) and those numbers are compared to internal corporate payscale/pay grades... ultimately the numbers can be adjusted by the future supervisor (i.e. VP of R&D) if he wants you bad enough... so nothing is set in stone... that includes vacations, moving expenses, hiring bonus, etc...

-If a prospective employer makes an offer that is in line with your expectations / needs, do you take the offer with out negotiating? Or do you ask for more, no matter the offer? (I'm asking this because the people I've talked to have suggested asking for 3-5k extra no matter the offer, but I feel at some point you should just be happy with the offer, am I correct or wrong?)
>> depends on the company... some have pretty generous pay range... some will pay you just enough to prevent you from leaving... if they pay and benefits are generous and cost of living is low you might come across as greedy especially when that extra 5K (which comes down to $150/ pay check)... but that's only if you think you have a really good offer already...

-Is it smart to present a document stating all of your expected expenses? Or would you just state the desired salary?
>> they couldn't care less about your expenses...

-If there are other job offers on the table, is it beneficial to bring them up?
>> it'll speed up their decision making; it'll give you leverage because of the mystery factor


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