Article #18 From the "What If ..." Library on Salary Negotiation

What If ...

I Need to Know Competing Salaries
It’s amazing how quickly the power can shift in the information age. Not so long ago, employers had almost all of the information and thus almost all of the power when it came to salary negotiations knowing the compensation rates for all the jobs they had to fill. Managers came to union negotiations armed to the teeth with all sorts of data on what their competitors in all 50 states, but especially their state, were paying and for what. That information was strictly for members only and came at a cost to them in time, money and membership dues.

Practically every National, statewide, and even some large local professional associations would annually conduct, gather, sort and sell a whole range of reports and services based on compensation surveys to their membership. Sometimes, as an inducement for more members to participate and submit a completed survey, members were promised a copy of the results when they became available.

Fast forward to 2006 where almost anything you would ever want to know about competitive compensation is up on the internet and, for all intents and purposes, it’s free for the taking. Just Google the words salary surveys and you’ll get an idea of what I mean. Competitive salary information abounds and to the industrious and computer savvy can literally reap the benefits. Now consider what that means in terms of a shift in power from the employer to the prospective job candidate. At the very least employers are far more likely to be challenged if they toss out a bogus number or try to defend a budget figure as though it’s an industry standard or its “what’s being offered for this position...” at least to the extent of enjoying a level playing field that not so long ago was severely lopsided in favor of employers. Employers that may have gotten away with low ball first offers in the past are watching college grads who just left an industry chat room, bulletin board or blog before keeping their appointment, balk at these offers. Employers, who used to hold onto that several thousand dollars they had in reserve to fill that post but no more, savvy candidates are no longer as likely to leave that extra money on the table.

So don’t forget to arm yourself for that next job interview. Be patient, polite, non-combative; and if you get shaky when presenting those latest compensation reports, then commit the data to memory and keep your paperwork, along with those sweaty palms, out of site.