Knowing Your Value

One of the hardest parts of job offers is always the salary and deciding whether to negotiate, not negotiate, or knowing in the first place when it’s appropriate. Especially for new graduates, knowing your skill-set and how valued that is to employers is extremely difficult to gauge. For someone in the technology sector specifically, there are so many different skills and employers, that actually knowing what you are worth is hard, yet very valuable when switching jobs or getting a new job out of college.

There are many sites that you can go to that help you see exactly what your worth is, but before Googling different salary sites, you need to do your research on the industry and professionals in the workplace. The Muse posted a great article outlining 4 easy ways to start seeing how much you are worth and how much you should actually be making. This is especially useful to new graduates when it comes time to juggle multiple job offers and start negotiating. Hope this helps anyone currently in this situation!


Get the Salary You Deserve: 4 Steps to Figuring Out What You’re Really Worth

3. Ask the Right Questions

To get the best deal, you need as much information as possible. There are three categories of questions to ask. The first group include questions you’d ask in any role to get a sense of how the company will judge your performance and what additional opportunities exist (such as bonuses and raises).

  • What are the expectations for this role?
  • What is the growth trajectory for this role?
  • What does the benefits package look like?
  • Is this a base-only offer?
  • Will there be a sign-on bonus?
  • How often do performance reviews take place, and will raises be contingent on those reviews?

The second category of questions applies to job seekers in talks with a startup, as you’ll want to explore equity offerings. This alternate form of compensation enables employees to take partial ownership in the company through stock options. Some basic questions to ask your potential employer include:

  • How many options will I be offered and how many shares are currently outstanding?
  • What is the strike price on my options?
  • What’s the preferred price that investors paid in the last round of financing?
  • What is the standard range for equity at the company? Is there a sliding scale?
  • How long do I have to exercise my stock options if I leave the company? Is early exercise available?

The third category consists of questions to ask yourself. You want to get clear on what you need in order to say yes:

  • How long do I plan to be with the company if I accept the offer?
  • How much risk am I willing to take on?
  • What do the company’s exit prospects look like?
  • What kind of equity/salary ratio works for me?

4. Negotiate Like a Pro

You want the job, but the salary isn’t quite where you’d like it to be. If you have multiple offers, consider leveraging one against the other by letting your first choice know that they’re your first choice, but option B came in $20K higher.

If there’s no other offer (or no wiggle room on numbers), but the job meets your other needs and includes room for growth, determine what is most important to you before taking the time to learn what else they can do. Will the company let you work from home? Will the HR department boost your benefits package? Offer a signing bonus or add an extra week of vacation? Explore all options before walking away. (And, because I know negotiation’s hard, here’s an email template for negotating when the salary’s low.)

It’s certainly a daunting task to determine your worth, and even more so to push for it when the company comes to you with a low salary offer. But you are worth it. Considering the amount of time you’ll dedicate to your job, you want to feel like it’s time well spent. Negotiating and confirming your worth to a company is crucial to both parties’ ultimate success.

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