By 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.”