HOW TO NE­GO­TI­ATE THE BEST JOB PACK­AGE

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Tan­isha A. Sykes Spe­cial for USA TO­DAY Sykes is an award-win­ning per­sonal fi­nance writer in New York City.

So you got the job of­fer, but the salary is a lit­tle low. Do you counter? Sur­pris­ingly, many peo­ple don’t.

Nearly three in five U.S. em­ploy­ees ac­cepted the salary they were ini­tially of­fered at their cur­rent job and did not ne­go­ti­ate, ac­cord­ing to a Glass­door Salary Ne­go­ti­a­tion In­sights Sur­vey re­leased in May 2016. What’s more, women are less likely to ne­go­ti­ate than men. Some 68% of women re­spon­dents vs. 52% of male re­spon­dents did not ne­go­ti­ate salary.

Yet, if we don’t ad­vo­cate for our­selves, who will?

Be­fore ac­cept­ing a job, check out these tips to ne­go­ti­ate your best com­pen­sa­tion pack­age and to po­si­tion your­self for long-term fi­nan­cial suc­cess.

KNOW THE NUM­BERS.

Com­pen­sa­tion varies widely, so in­ves­ti­gate pay lev­els with those who have sim­i­lar job ti­tles and func­tions and are in your geo­graphic lo­ca­tion. Payscale.com, Glass­door.com and Salary.com are a good start­ing point, as is the Bu­reau of La­bor Statis­tics’ free wage data. But don’t stop there. “Many in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tions like the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Civil En­gi­neers of­fer salary sur­veys that de­tail how much a cer­tain role com­mands in the mar­ket­place,” says Dan Ryan, a prin­ci­pal at ex­ec­u­tive search firm Ryan Search & Con­sult­ing and a mem­ber of the Spe­cial Ex­per­tise panel for the So­ci­ety for Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment.

THINK BROADLY ABOUT PO­TEN­TIAL BEN­E­FITS.

“For en­try- to mid-level candi- dates, ask about a hir­ing bonus, a per­for­mance re­view af­ter six months or even a larger workspace,” says Ryan. And be flex­i­ble on how the com­pen­sa­tion pack­age is bun­dled. In ex­change for a more ro­bust health care plan or a flex­i­ble work sched­ule, con­sider ac­cept­ing a lower base salary. “Ev­ery can­di­date has spe­cific needs, and there is al­most al­ways an op­por­tu­nity for can­di­dates and firms to ne­go­ti­ate in these ar­eas,” Ryan says.

GO FOR THE SALARY IN­CREASE VS. THE BONUS.

“Salaries rarely go down, while a bonus is not guar­an­teed,” says David Mullins, CEO of David Mullins Wealth Man­age­ment. Also, a salary is eas­ier to man­age from a tax and cash-flow per­spec­tive. “If you re­ceive a 10% salary in­crease, for ex­am­ple, and in­vest the ex­tra in­come in your 401(k), your pay stays the same, while your sav­ings goes up sub­stan­tially,” says Mullins. Plus, 401(k) con­tri­bu­tions are pre­tax, help­ing to off­set any in­crease in taxes from the raise. A bonus is a nice chunk of change, but it might bump you up into a higher tax bracket. In ad­di­tion, a bonus does not count to­ward pen­sion ben­e­fits.

POSE THE RIGHT QUES­TIONS.

“Dur­ing the in­ter­view, it’s com­pletely ap­pro­pri­ate to say, ‘Ex­plain to me how the bonus pro­gram works. How can my per­for­mance im­pact my pay? Can I buy more va­ca­tion days as part of the paid, time-off pol­icy?’” says San­dra McLel­lan, di­rec­tor of the North Amer­ica Re­wards Prac­tice at hu­man re­sources con­sult­ing firm Wil­lis Tow­ers Wat­son. “Ca­reer web­sites, such as Mon­ster or Ca­reerBuilder, con­tain ex­ten­sive in­for­ma­tion and ar­ti­cles on what to ask dur­ing a job in­ter­view as well as how to ask man­agers about com­pen­sa­tion,” she says. “If you are work­ing with a re­cruiter, they will also be a good source for help­ful tips,” she says.

JUS­TIFY THE ASK.

“It’s not enough for them to like you. They also have to be­lieve you’re worth the of­fer you want,” says Deepak Mal­horta, a Har­vard Busi­ness School busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­fes­sor who fo­cuses on ne­go­ti­a­tion, deal-mak­ing and con­flict res­o­lu­tion. Don’t just state your de­sire, such as a 15% higher salary or per­mis­sion to work from home on Fri­days. Tell the story about how you self­taught a cer­tain topic, con­trib­uted to a win­ning project or did vol­un­teer work on a cause im­por­tant to the com­pany.

BUILD UP CASH, THEN PAY DOWN DEBT.

Once the salary in­crease is im­mi­nent, put some fi­nan­cial goals into play. It may make fi­nan­cial sense to pay off high-in­ter­est debt first, but emer­gen­cies hap­pen, so put some money away in sav­ings, then tackle debt, says San Asato, CFP, a fi­nan­cial ad­viser at Ray­mond James. “Ide­ally, build up a cash re­serve of at least four to six months to hedge against life and house­hold events, then al­lo­cate a por­tion of your pay to re­duce credit card debt,” he says.

GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCKPHOTO

Salary is a nat­u­ral ne­go­ti­a­tion point for a job of­fer, but there are a few oth­ers as well, such as ben­e­fits or bonuses.

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