The Economic Factor

Compensation, of course, will be a key factor in your decision whether to accept a new position.

Oddly, few people take the time to really understand their economic choices, mostly because there are so many hidden factors, such as cost of living, benefits, relocation expenses, and so forth.

Regardless of where compensation ranks on your list of priorities, it’s a good idea to know what you may be getting into when faced with a career decision.

To help you put your economic choices into perspective, use this compensation comparison to evaluate both your prospective compensation package and what you’re currently earning.

The best time to make your calculations is before an offer is made. That way, you can form a clear idea of what you’ll need, without having to dicker (or experience shock) later on.

If you’re looking at an opportunity that’s in a different geographic location, you might want to do some investigating before you even interview. For example, if you live in a nice suburban community in Upstate, New York, what would it cost you to maintain your current lifestyle in an area like Boston? Your answer (and your willingness to make the necessary trade-offs) will help determine your level of interest when considering the new position.

Figuring the Bottom Line

The best approach to putting the deal together is to decide whether you want the job before an offer is extended. This allows you to clarify whether the job suits your needs. Unless you’re motivated solely by money, it’s doubtful a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.

If the job interests you, then determine the conditions under which you’ll accept. These fall into two categories: Bottom Lines and Porcupines.

The term bottom line refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $116,000 but would think about $112,000 or settle for $108,000, then you haven’t established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.

I recommend against “negotiating” an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter it, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of tit for tat format may be customary for negotiating a residential real estate deal, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.

Here’s how: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing to them your bottom line as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can raise the ante or walk away. Part 3 next Monday