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job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 05:06 PM   #1
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job negotiation

Hi all,

What sorts of things are typically negotiable?
How negotiable are they typically?

I am working now as a contract engineer at company A for company B.
I am due to receive a job offer this afternoon to become a contract engineer at company C for company D.

Company B pays $35 / hour plus I have started to accrue 19 days vacation yearly and pays 80% of my medical premium on a group plan.
Company D is offering $34 / hour plus I will accrue vacation days after 90 days and pays 50% of my medical premium on a group plan.

I am assuming salary is negotiable -- but how much? Would they go to $35? $40? How do I figure that out? Could I ask to accrue vacation time immediately? Could I ask to begin participating in the 401(k) immediately? Signing bonus? Free kayak lessons?

I assume that stuff like medical plans and 401(k) matching percentages and so forth are non-negotiable. Correct?

TIA,

2Cor521
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 05:36 PM   #2
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Re: job negotiation

Medical plans and 401(k) are set in stone.

Vacation days may be corporate policy but the value can be a part of a signing bonus.* Figure out what the $ spread is between the 80% and the 50% plans (you really need to look at the plan documents to compare).*

There is no reason for you to agree to a rate less than you are receiving now, you want to at least match.*

Why is Company C attractive?* I wouldn't cross the street for less than a 15% kick unless Company A's situation is a concern.* Better the devil you know than the devil you don't know.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 05:43 PM   #3
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Re: job negotiation

Pay and some other forms of compensation are negotiable, but for a specific job at a specific place at a particular point in time--we don't know.

One time when I countered more salary and stock options, they woudn't budge, but gave me a nice hiring bonus that brought me up to my requested salary (good for one year only, but my next raise & bonus got me where I wanted to go). Another time I asked for more hourly pay as a contractor--no dice, they said I was offered the top of the range already (2002 in the software biz, so rates were dropping). But they made me a part-time employee instead of a contractor, so I got some bennies like PTO and holidays. Give it a shot.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 05:59 PM   #4
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
Why is Company C attractive?
I have a rotten coworker at Company A that literally makes me and the other contractors physically ill. Company A's response to our concerns was, "Get over it". Small office, not really any way to avoid the person. That's the biggest one by a mile.

Second biggest is that the position at Company A is less stable of a proposition.

Used to work FT at Company C, and am considering going back there. Working for Company D at Company C would improve my chances I think.

Thanks for the advice Brat and astromeria, I'm considering it carefully.

2Cor521
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 06:03 PM   #5
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Re: job negotiation

Yeah - good idea to figure out very clearly why you want to make a move. The salary doesn't seem to warrant a move in and of itself. Anything else going on?

Not that there's anything wrong with change just to get the juices going now and then, but I figure it's much higher risk if you aren't in real good touch with what's motivating you.

I have hired people who want to move from the private sector to an academic one. When you ask them why, some are just sick of their current hassles and want out. Others cite excitement about teaching, intellectual stimulation, have a research idea, etc. You can guess which ones are more likely to succeed and feel fulfilled after a year or two.

Just some food for thought.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 06:39 PM   #6
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Re: job negotiation

RIT,

A large part of me would be leaving the current job -- maybe 50%. A smaller part of me would be going to the other job -- maybe 25%. The other 25% of me doesn't care as long as I get paid. So there is some of the excitement and interest in the other job.

But I'm starting to wonder if, to repeat a REHP quote I read somewhere but can't find now, all work basically blows in one way or another.

I could go into it more, but I'd write a novel that wouldn't be a very interesting read.

2Cor521
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 08:25 PM   #7
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
RIT,

A large part of me would be leaving the current job -- maybe 50%. A smaller part of me would be going to the other job -- maybe 25%. The other 25% of me doesn't care as long as I get paid. So there is some of the excitement and interest in the other job.

But I'm starting to wonder if...all work basically blows in one way or another.
OK, gotcha.

Don't know your details about how much longer you see yourself working, but I think you may be approaching a point of mild cynicism which could dog you for a long time.

From what I am hearing, you might consider holding off on a small-time job change which will basically change nothing except a few bucks, and begin to explore what type of work might not be so empty for you. Surely at one time, something about your career turned you on. Go out and find that again. Maybe a real career change, retraining, etc. Or going out on your won when you are ready. Or FIRE earlier than planned but on less money. Only you can decide.

For what it's worth, that's where it sounds like the action is. Just an outsider's observation. Then again, I may be way off having had 32 years in a career I basically enjoyed.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 10:18 PM   #8
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Re: job negotiation

Good advice, Rich. When I was feeling burned out as a tech writer, I switched to technical editing and got another 9 years of mostly enjoyable work out of myself--and moved to a startup part-way through, which really got the creative juices flowing (for awhile ).
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-07-2006, 10:24 PM   #9
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Or going out on your won when you are ready.
You own some of the best typos in the business, Rich*
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 08:10 AM   #10
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
You own some of the best typos in the business, Rich
Damn, got me again. Or maybe it's just that I have the best word-by-word copy editor/spell checker in the business?

Here's some entries from my medical records to keep you busy:

Actual HMO Medical Chart Entries...

Patient has had no shaking chills, but her husband states she
was very hot in bed last night.

Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

On the 2nd day the knee was better and on the 3rd day
it disappeared completely.

The patient has been depressed ever since she began
seeing me in 1993.

Discharge status: Alive but without permission.

Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male,
mentally alert but forgetful.

The patient refused an autopsy.

The patient has no past history of suicides.

Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.

Patient's past medical history has been remarkably insignificant
with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

Since she can't get pregnant with her husband, I thought you
might like to work her up.

While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.

Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.

Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.

She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life,
until she got a divorce.

I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for
physical therapy.

Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

The patient was to have a bowel resection. However,
he took a job as a stockbroker instead.

The pelvic examination will be done later on the floor.

Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

Patient has two teenage children, but no other abnormalities.

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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by SecondCor521
I have a rotten coworker at Company A that literally makes me and the other contractors physically ill.* Company A's response to our concerns was, "Get over it".* Small office, not really any way to avoid the person.* That's the biggest one by a mile.

Second biggest is that the position at Company A is less stable of a proposition.

Used to work FT at Company C, and am considering going back there.* Working for Company D at Company C would improve my chances I think.

Thanks for the advice Brat and astromeria, I'm considering it carefully.

2Cor521
Ahh... good reasons to leave Company A, and you know Company C.

I would still ask for $ make-up for vacation and an increase in your base rate. You could lay it on the table and ask "can you match?". The worst you will hear is no. If no, ask about performance increases.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 11:13 AM   #12
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
Here's some entries from my medical records to keep you busy:

Actual HMO Medical Chart Entries...

Patient has had no shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night. ...
If I am forced to take a premature ER after getting fired for uncontrollable bursts of laughter at work, I'll hold you personally resonsible!**
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 11:18 AM   #13
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
If I am forced to take a premature ER after getting fired for uncontrollable bursts of laughter at work, I'll hold you personally resonsible!* *
Scrooge: you'll thank me some day.*

P.S. please check your spelling more carefully next time -- see above.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 11:32 AM   #14
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich_in_Tampa
P.S. please check your spelling more carefully next time -- see above.
One of the stranger things about this century is that you can instantly discover that this particular typo was made 221,000 times out of the 1,130,000,000 times that the word "responsible" was used on the Web. The next logical question is whether this is a better deal than the aircar that we were promised when we were kids?..
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 12:15 PM   #15
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Re: job negotiation

One thing a professor told me once, is that in all the jobs he's taken in engineering... you usually have to take a pay cut when you start a new job. That way the new company can find out if you are worth what you claim to be in the interview/resume. He said he's had to take a pay cut of up to $10k. And this was several years ago.

After the company figures out if you can pull your weight, then your negotiating skills become useful. That's also what I've noticed, from new hires coming out of college. They lowball 'em right away, but might give 'em a 25% raise after a year and another one a year after that. Depends.

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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-08-2006, 04:14 PM   #16
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Re: job negotiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brat
Ahh... good reasons to leave Company A, and you know Company C.

I would still ask for $ make-up for vacation and an increase in your base rate. You could lay it on the table and ask "can you match?". The worst you will hear is no. If no, ask about performance increases.
OK, I'm pretty sure this is what I am going to do, since I respect your opinion and it matches my own thoughts ;-).

Which of the following comes across best:

1. "Here's what I'm making now, can you match it?"
2. "I'd like to take you up on your offer, but the salary isn't quite what I need it to be. Will you pay me $3X/hour?"
3. "I'll accept the offer if you pay me $3X/hour"

2Cor521
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-09-2006, 12:47 PM   #17
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Re: job negotiation

Were I the manager I like #3 because I know if I push pay on your behalf you are a hire. The risk for Company C is that they would need to start negotiating with another candidate.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-09-2006, 10:16 PM   #18
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Re: job negotiation

Update for those watching at home.

I called the recruiter person this morning (the person who made me the offer, not the manager to whom I would report) and basically said I had a few questions about the job and the benefits and then wanted to let her know what I was thinking. After asking the job/benefits questions, I told her something like, "I'd like to take the job, but looking at the financial aspects of it, I would like to ask you to match what I'm making now at $3X/hour. Also, I'd like to get a signing bonus of $XXXX to compensate for the loss of vacation time accrual during the first 90 days. I know it's not a big difference, and I'm not trying to nickel-and-dime your company, but mentally it would be nicer not to take a pay cut when changing jobs. Oh, and can I start the 401(k) on day 1 instead of day 91?"

She said the 401(k) thing she couldn't do anything about, but on the hourly rate and the signing bonus she just sounded like she was taking notes and didn't seem surprised or anything. She did say that Company D is on a budget but she'd get back to me tomorrow morning.

I'll keep you all posted...I know you all will have restless nights waiting for the news. :P

2Cor521.
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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-10-2006, 06:17 PM   #19
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Re: job negotiation

Update:

The recruiter person called me back and offered me nearly what I asked for -- a salary match and, instead of the signing bonus she said she could add 4 days of vacation time (which I can cash out later), which was good enough for me.

I just told my supervisor at company B and he said I should ask for more money from companies A/B. He was quoting numbers nearly double what I am making now. Hmmm...

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Re: job negotiation
Old 08-10-2006, 10:05 PM   #20
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Re: job negotiation

Most consulting firms mark up 100% to account for supervision, benies and profit. Now if Company B is willing to offer you the 100%....

Odds are thay and you are precluded from an employment relationship for at least a while, however.
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