Evaluating Your Real Compensation Package

Knowing what you're worth can helpsecure your family's financial future

friendly? Do they make any of those “best company to work for” lists? “Specifically for mid-level professionals, you want to know how far they are willing to go to get you,” says Bob Lanza, a litigation and employment partner with Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal in New York City.

One area of benefits open to negotiation is work schedules. “Flextime and telecommuting are areas where employers can reward and accommodate employees without major costs,” says Bill Coleman, senior vice president of compensation for Salary.com. “Flexibility is a big part of the mix these days.”

Be ready to tell your story — to convey your strengths, your experience — while explaining why you and only you are the right one for the position. If you’re tempted, particularly in this economy, to take a job that doesn’t require all of your talents, think twice.

“I find especially among African Americans who have been downsized, when trying to find a new job, they have a willingness to take a lesser job. Such a move can boomerang and derail your progress,” asserts Walker. “You dilute your value. While you need to be flexible, don’t sell yourself short.”

If the company isn’t offering all that you want in salary and benefits then upgrade the job. “Say, not only can you make sales calls but also you can train salespeople, or that you developed a sales training manual. If you extend what they originally had in mind, you may be able to upgrade the package,” says Richard Bayer, COO of the Five O’ Clock Club, a career-coaching, outplacement network for professionals, managers, and executives based in New York City.

Know what you want, financially and career wise. For some, flexibility is more important than money. “I had two children in two years, so flexibility was my priority,” says Julie M. Robinson-Tingue, 34, the recently hired manager of community relations for Long Island Blood Services, a nonprofit provider of blood products in Westbury, New York.

“I took a 10% pay cut, but the trade-off is wonderful. If I need to come in early so that I can leave early, or if I need to telecommute on occasion, I can,” she explains. “My employer is very family friendly, which was a priority for me. I was upfront about my need for flexibility. You don’t want to just say anything to get the job and hope you can get what you want later; that’s setting yourself up for problems down the road.”

When you’re just beginning what you hope will be a long, meaningful relationship with a new employer, it’s also a time to protect yourself — just in case. “Negotiate for a strong severance package. If the company merges or is bought out, you want the absolute right to payment under your contract,” advises Lanza. He says your severance package should be clearly explained within your employment contract, but stresses, “the employee should not make any concessions on other major employment issues until he wraps up the severance issue.”


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