Salary negotiation is a sometimes complex and nuanced discussion. It is difficult to explain briefly, and likely may require an advising session at the Career Center. Here are some common preparations for most salary discussions.
Budgeting and cost of living
A good place to start is to consider what your monthly costs will be such as rent, groceries, utilities, transportation and any credit or student loan payments that are due on a monthly basis. If you’re relocating, research any differences in cost of living and the rental costs in the area. When you add up these expenses, you should arrive at a monthly budget that represents what you need to survive, also known as, your break even point. And don’t forget to account for pay deductions which can amount to anywhere between 20-35% of your earnings.
Industry salary surveys
Every year, many industry-related salary surveys are published to help job-seekers determine their potential value in the job market. The exact salary figures are meant to serve as one of many data points to consider as you establish a salary target that makes sense for you. There are numerous sources on this topic and utilizing more than one is recommended, if possible.
- Coroflot - Design Salary Guide
- POWArts - Arts Administration Salary Guide
- TCG - Marketing and Visual Communication Salaries
- AIA - Architecture Salaries
- Chronicle - Higher Education Salary Data
- Bureau of Labor Statistics - Various Professions’ Salaries
Factors beyond salary
Salary negotiations vary significantly depending on the industry, company and even the specific hiring manager within an organization. You could be offered a salary figure that exceeds your expectations, or you could be negotiating for much more than the initial offer, at which time the prior research you’ve done will come into play.
Regardless of which situation you find yourself in, your growth potential should always be an important deciding factor on whether or not to accept a job. If your initial salary figure is low, can you count on a performance review within one year to be considered for a promotion with pay increase if you’re exceeding expectations? Will the employer support career growth through educational opportunities such as conferences and online learning resources? Try to advocate for your career as you address your short term financial needs.
Talk of compensation usually happens near the end of an interview process and this is the desired timing. It is best for interviews to focus primarily on you as a potential contributor, the responsibilities of the job, and the company as a potential host. When a mutual fit between you and company has been established, there is now an incentive for both parties to work through logistics including compensation.
The RISD Career Center has seen it all and is ready to provide personalized support to RISD students and alumni for their interview and salary negotiations. Since no two interview processes are the same, we strongly encourage an advising appointment to cover these topics. Additionally, you may find the following information helpful.