5 ways to negotiate the best salary for an out-of-state job

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Negotiate out of state salaryBy Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

While negotiating an acceptable starting salary is critical for every job seeker, workers who are relocating should be especially diligent to ensure that their paycheck will cover their new situation. Before coming to the table, arm yourself by:

1. Knowing the location
“The first thing to think about is the difference in cost of living between your current state and the state you are considering,” says Tracy A. Cashman, partner and general manager of the information technology division of staffing firm Winter, Wyman. “This could affect your salary one way or the other, so you should be aware of the differences prior to negotiation.”

Take the case of someone earning $50,000 in Seattle. To maintain the same lifestyle, CareerRelocate.com estimates that he would need to make about $91,365 in New York City but only $40,530 in Dubuque, Iowa. Thus, don’t be encouraged or discouraged by numbers until you know how far your dollars will go.

2. Evaluating the whole picture
“The most important key to negotiating any salary in-state or out-of-state is knowing exactly what you want,” says Jim Camp, president and CEO of the Camp Negotiation Institute and creator of the CD audio program “The Power of No.” “Taking stock and really thinking through how much you require is a must.”

When contemplating a desired salary range, he suggests considering issues such as:

  • Who will be paying for the move?
  • How difficult will it be to sell your home?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • Will your spouse need to find another job?

3. Researching the going rate for your position
Salaries vary greatly by geography, industry, company size and function. “You really need to do your research for out-of-state companies, because you will likely not be as familiar with the local economics and culture,” says Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-author of “How the Fierce Handle Fear: Secrets to Succeeding in Challenging Times” and partner at career-coaching firm SixFigureStart.

“Once you have an idea of ranges, then you can find people in that location working in the same industry and for similar-size companies and ask them if the range sounds right,” Ceniza-Levine says. “LinkedIn is a great resource for finding people. Job boards in general sometimes have chat or message boards. Your undergrad or grad-school contacts are also a good place to look, as alumni are geographically dispersed, and there may be someone in your new target location.”

4. Being ready to demonstrate worth
“Out-of-state negotiations often require written communications, and your ability to create vision with the written word can be the most important tool in your bag,” Camp says. “If you’re negotiating by phone, be sure to keep your voice low, speak slowly and ask a lot of questions. You want your prospective employer to do most of the talking while you take notes and collect valuable intel that will help you develop his vision. What’s [his or her] vision? That hiring you at the salary you require is the best solution to his problems.”

Camp stresses the importance of paying attention to the challenges and responsibilities mentioned. “The key is to tie your abilities and experiences to the solution of their vision. Don’t be afraid to give specific examples of challenges you faced and the solutions you provided. Special assignments that fit the employer’s vision should be explained and discussed. The more examples you can provide the better.”

5. Thinking beyond salary
Putting an emphasis on salary is important, because it serves as a basis for future pay increases. But if negotiations come to a standstill, it might be worth seeing what else can be gained.

“While you want to go to the table with some idea of a salary that seems fair — and the research to prove it — you should also consider whether the company is providing any relocation assistance or a sign-on that could help with moving expenses,” Cashman says. “If they have not brought it up, you might ask if that’s something they would entertain. While the old-school full relocation packages are mostly extinct, except for very high-level executives, many companies will consider kicking in five thousand dollars to assist with moving costs.”

Likewise, if you decide to take the job but would like to readdress the issue of salary sooner rather than later, see if you can negotiate a time to do so. “Remember that ‘no’ just means ‘not now,’” Ceniza-Levine says. “If you don’t get what you want the first time, see if you can have a review in six months or even three months rather than the more typical annual review.”

  1. I’ve noticed a number of advice columns on salary negotiations instruct job seekers emphatically to avoid discussing specific salary requirements until an offer is made.  They often offer up a bevy of possible suggestions for the job seeker to sidestep the question, or back-burner it until later in the hiring process so that the candidate can make himself or herself “indispensable” in the hiring manager’s eyes before dropping the salary requirement bomb, or even to try and maneuver the hiring manager to give up some insight into the salary range she or he is willing to pay before quoting a figure the job seeker is looking for.  However, this advice seems to be outdated by about 10-12 years.  Employers are, by and large, using web technologies to receive, search, filter and evaluate potential hires.  More and more I find that the traditional methods of job seeking via networking (though still important) are giving way to technology in the hiring process.  Even when I make a connection directly with someone in a prospective employer’s organization, hiring processes increasingly dictate that, “The first step is to submit your resume and letter of interest through our careers site”.  During that process, I have also noticed that increasingly, employers are making “desired salary” a required field (and in some cases, previously salaries….which is an unfair comparison in many cases) such that the job seeker cannot submit their resume and letter of interest without placing a figure in that field.  They’ve even gone so far as to use data validation to enforce a certain format so that the job seeker cannot enter a salary range, or any additional qualifiers such as, “100,000, negotiable” or “110,000, depending upon benefits” but rather are forced to enter a specific dollar figure.  Presumably, then, recruiters and hiring managers are using this field  to filter out the candidates who are asking too much or too little (to be serious candidates) and also hold a candidate to what they requested at the time of application, before they knew the details of the job. What’s more, they do not usually post a salary range or hiring range so the candidate has no idea within what range the employer is willing to consider hiring a new candidate and is often making a shot in the dark as to what a fair salary might be.  The title “Director of Operations” could pay $500K+ in one company and $35K at another. 
    Thus, It is difficult to walk into a negotiation and have the hiring manager offer you exactly what you put in that field (because you didn’t want to get filtered out for being “greedy”) and then ask for more because the offer actually falls below what you really need now that you’ve learned more about the position, its responsibilities and the unique combination of experience, skills and knowledge you possess that makes you more desirable than the rest of the candidate pool.
    So what [current] advice is there out there in a world where the power in negotiations has once again shifted solely into the employers’ hands because they can require candidates to “put all of their chips on the table” before the candidate is even given the chance to learn enough about the position through an interview to make an informed decision about his/her salary request, or even get to the interview stage so that she/he can make a good impression a present a case for why she/he is worth the salary they have requested?

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