Author Topic: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!  (Read 10291 times)

stor_stark

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In a couple of weeks I will be flying to San Francisco for an interview and expect to be offered an entry level engineering consulting position (not tech/software). I'm in my mid-20s and have a master's degree in my field, though I don't have any direct work experience in this field. I feel very well qualified for this job and am fairly confident that I would perform well (though you can never know for sure I suppose).

In our last phone interview, the interviewers threw out some rough financial details of a typical offer for someone in my position. Apparently they just tried to hire someone, but that guy walked away because he felt the compensation wasn't adequate for the cost of living in the Bay Area.

What they mentioned

- $55k base salary, with $2-3k signing/relocation bonus
- Full health/dental coverage (they were vague about this)
- Highly probable that there would be a ~10% raise in year two as long as I'm performing well and completing all applicable training
- Around $10k annual bonus depending on performance (they were vague about this)
- 5% match in 401k, but they said I would have to wait until year 2 to contribute. This surprised me so I probed them a little and they said it was a "legal thing". I didn't push it any further, but I really don't think they knew what they were talking about. Maybe they meant the match wouldn't be contributed until year 2 or that there would be a vesting period. Any thoughts? Is this normal? Potentially losing out on a large amount of tax-free savings in the first year seems like a pretty big deal to me.

What I want

- $60k base salary (ok, yeah I'd like more but I think this number is more realistic)
- The ability to contribute to a 401k from day 1 (if I have to wait until the second year of employment to get the 5% match, then so be it)
- 13 to 15 days of vacation (we didn't discuss this at all, but I'm assuming 10 is standard for a new hire)
- Strongly prefer the ability to contribute to an HSA over the standard health plan
- More solid metrics for knowing how to track performance and progress towards bonuses and raises

So how do I go about getting some/most of these things? I didn't respond with any numbers, just that we were thinking in the same ballpark. I obviously want to be well-prepared and have a plan of attack when this discussion comes up in a couple of weeks. This whole process is new to me and a little overwhelming (I've never had to worry about my own health insurance for example), so I would appreciate some MMM input.

Semi-relevant info: I don't have any debt at all and would plan to rent a small room in an apartment for around $1200-1500 somewhere in the city and go car-free if I were to move for the job.

Thanks for reading!

deborah

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2014, 09:58:30 PM »
Not in US, so can't comment on specifics, but you should work out which are negotiable, and which are non-negotiable. Also, which are most important to you.

deborah

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2014, 10:40:15 PM »
I'd actually say to go to the interview, be prepared for it not to be what you want, but at least you will have had some more interview experience.

Joel

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2014, 10:53:05 PM »
Unless you have multiple offers to choose from, what makes you think you can negotiate the offer?

Anatidae V

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2014, 12:14:45 AM »
If you want to live in San Francisco, can you arrange any other interviews for the same time that you're there? Then if you decide it's not worth your while, you get the experience and might pick up something better. Also, look up statistics on the area, the job you're going for and normal package information so you have actual information to back up why you should be paid more. Can you also think about why your masters might make you look good to them (i.e. really sell yourself to them to get the extra pay).

(a) $55k and $60k are both a complete joke of a salary for any job in San Francisco (or anywhere, but especially in SF), especially if you have a master's degree! Three times that wouldn't be unrealistic, or maybe as low as $100k depending on the industry, but certainly not lower.
(b) $2-3k is a complete joke of a relocation bonus. It should be more like $10k.
(c) There's no reason to negotiate if you're only going to ask for trivially more. Ask for a lot more.
(d) Don't believe claims about future raises.

From what I'm reading, this company sounds ready and willing to exploit the shit out of you. Be careful.

Somewhat off-topic, but the idea that "$55 - $60k is a joke of a salary" for a entry level position in an engineering consulting firm has my curiosity. Would that be what you would expect for someone with a bachelor's instead? It is close to what's expected (in AUD) to my knowledge, so SF must be quite pricey to live in and with similarly high salaries?

mxt0133

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2014, 12:34:47 AM »
To get an idea of how crazy it is in SF right now a one bedroom will go for about 3K a month and starting salary for a new college graduate with a BS in Computer Science can command 80-90k from a mid-tier firm, no Facebook or Google, they start at 120K base.

A candidate with Masters making 50K is like a Uber driver making $25 an hour.  So yes 50k in SF with a Masters, especially in an engineering field is a joke.

50k somewhere else like Minnesota, Florida, or Arizona maybe ok but not in a HCOL city.

OP, check out glassdoor.com to see what people are making at the company, in your industry, with your level of education and experience.  I would say a Masters is about 3 years of experience.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 12:36:29 AM by mxt0133 »

FoundPeace

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 12:39:42 AM »
Somewhat off-topic, but the idea that "$55 - $60k is a joke of a salary" for a entry level position in an engineering consulting firm has my curiosity. Would that be what you would expect for someone with a bachelor's instead? It is close to what's expected (in AUD) to my knowledge, so SF must be quite pricey to live in and with similarly high salaries?

Yes, that salary is a bit of a joke. I'm a mechanical engineer in my first job (started in January). I only have my bachelor's degree, I'm working as a manufacturing engineer, and I'm in a city with a much lower cost of living (I make $60k). $55,000 seems really low to me. From what I could find, the lowest salary for entry level engineers was for civil engineering. Still, that salary was $50,000 for someone without a master's degree. Add a master's degree and a HCOL area and you should be making much more.

bluecheeze

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 01:20:35 AM »
That salary does seem extremely low in general....
I second glassdoor.com

A bachelor's in engineering should get you 50-65k in a lower cost of living area.  If you have any credentials (internships and good grades) I would be trying to get in the 80-100k range to be honest (in a low cost of living area).
A masters would add maybe 5-10k or it just may add nothing and help you stand out.

I just saw a report come out recently (facebook link from yahoo finance I believe) about how companies can't keep people as of late because they are getting significant raises from other companies.  I would agree with this in my engineering field. Moral of the story is there should be a lot of opportunities out there- when there are opportunities, salaries rise.

To put it into perspective- 5 years ago during the "dark ages" (when jobs were hard to come by and salaries were low) peers were getting their first jobs out of college for 80-90k civil engineering in Texas.  We went to a public college so not talking MIT/Cal tech grads here.  Some peers with no internships and bad grades still got 45-60k in Florida

chuckaluck

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 01:28:24 AM »
While you are there, you should also ask to speak with other workers without the "suit and ties" around.  If the interviewers are proud of their company and their workers then they won't mind at all.  To me, the workers will tell the real story like how fast folks really progress thru the ranks, what the real costs of living are, if work expectations are reasonable, etc.  Also, try to get a sense if the folks you will be working with/for "your type of folks?".  It sounds like you are making a big move away from your comfort zone, so it is important to get a sense that you will be able to get along with your co-workers.  Good luck my friend.  Keep us updated. 

SnackDog

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2014, 01:45:16 AM »
My entry-level salary in Texas in 1996 was $56,000.  I can' t believe someone would expect you to survive in the Bay Area on such a salary.  Why are you even talking to them?

jzb11

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2014, 03:16:43 AM »
I echo the crew here. Take a job for 50-60K in another low cost area - midwest, mid south, etc.

Terrestrial

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2014, 07:31:19 AM »
I am hiring entry level straight out of school engineers with bachelor's degrees in a very low COL area for 55k...a place that literally costs 1/4-1/3 of the Bay Area in terms of housing, not to mention California in general puts the screws to you for taxes, etc, to further erode your buying/savings power.  To put it in perspective my very good friend lives in the penninsula and just got a job doing virtually the same thing i'm doing, same years of experience, same degrees and both with MBAs, for ~50% more than my salary (and i'm still not sure it was enough).  I have a beautiful house here for 350k.  He's trying to figure out how to buy small townhouses for 900k...not kidding or exaggerating. 

I know you aren't in the tech industry and this is somewhat a detriment for 'normal' jobs trying to live in that area...silicon valley tech companies hire kids straight out of school for into the six figures and this kills affordability for people not in that industry.  The 'average' tech worker there now makes something like 175k. 

You need closer to 1.5-2x that salary up front if you want to make any meaningful savings while living in SF/the penninsula.  55k might scrape you by if you live in a slum in east or south bay and deal with the ridiculous traffic commuting and/or don't want to save any money.

Good luck!

For further perspective, my friend's wife is a teacher in the peninsula and makes around 65k.  I'm not knocking teachers (my wife is one) but we all know they are generally underpaid and fall at the low end of the salary scale. 

« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 08:00:10 AM by Terrestrial »

Terrestrial

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2014, 07:48:52 AM »
I also second what others have said:

Be very skeptical of putting too much faith in 'you'll progress quickly' or 'the usual bonus is $XX k'.  Sometimes that it true, sometimes it's a snow job.   Get your money up front, not in promises.  Even if they have good intentions, bonuses and raises are the first things to go in a recession or when the company hits a rough patch.  Salary cuts are much further down the list.

The best advice I can give from having been on both sides of the table is:

1)  Know what the market rates are, not what 'feels right/realistic'.  In the end this will form most of the basis for where you end up.  You can be a bit above this if you are a really great candidate or they are having problems filling the position, or a bit below this because you aren't a good negotiator (because you didn't know the market rates!) or because some firms are on the cheaper end, but people rarely end up all that much above market rate for entry level positions...just not alot of differentiators at that level to command a drastically higher salary.

2)  Similar to the old saying that you make your money on a house the day you buy it (based on purchase price)....the most important point for your salary is your initial negotiation.  The initial salary will form the basis for every adjustment you get from here on...starting at 10k less adds up over time, first since many raises are based on % so the lower the salary the less the dollar amount raise, and second because even if all your raises are the same dollar-wise....10k less per year into perpetuity is a ton of money. 

3)  Not meant to be a damper, but I really don't pay much of a premium for masters in engineering vs. bachelors.  I will caveat this by saying that it's because for the specific type of engineering industry I'm in it really doesn't give you any more 'job skills' so we don't pay that much for it.  I'm sure this is totally industry specific and others may have different experiences.  Also I have noticed they tend to be more common now, I suspect part of the reason may be with the recent recession many kids stayed and got master's degrees because of the lack of decent job openings the past few years.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 07:54:02 AM by Terrestrial »

stor_stark

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2014, 09:10:20 PM »
Thanks all for your replies. The reality check/face punching was needed.

I will say that Terrestrial's responses are particularly accurate. This job is in a subset of civil engineering, and the amount that they are offering is standard for this particular position (whether or not that is reasonable to live in a high COL city is a different story); I have verified salaries with some of my former classmates. Employers in this field don't value higher degrees very much because of the lack of experience factor. That being said, my master's degree was essentially free, and I don't regret getting it at all. I personally feel a lot more knowledgeable in my field after two additional years of study, and I think that some employers are too quick to discount academic work (and vice versa in academia).

Anyway, one of my main takeaways from this thread and other research is that SF is a great city, but the tech industry seems to have helped to make it very difficult to afford for people not in it.

I have a couple of solid leads for other jobs, and I should be qualified for certain types of somewhat higher paying ME jobs as well (though I'm not quite as passionate about these right now). I will say that it's hard to not jump at this first offer that is thrown out, and I'm sure that employers key off of this when dealing with new hires.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2014, 09:12:38 PM by stor_stark »

DoubleDown

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2014, 09:34:18 AM »
I will say that it's hard to not jump at this first offer that is thrown out, and I'm sure that employers key off of this when dealing with new hires.

No doubt! It's great therefore that you are scoping out some other employers. Like Joel suggested above, your "best alternative to a negotiated agreement" (BATNA) is another offer from a competing employer. I hope you can line up as many interviews as possible in the same timeframe, since that will give you the ultimate leverage and understanding of what salary/benefits you can command.

I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss this offer (if you get one) unless you have some reasonable confidence something better will present itself. Once you already have a job and experience, you can leverage it into better-paying jobs elsewhere after putting in a reasonable amount of time (say, one year).

Good luck!

MooseOutFront

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2014, 09:58:48 AM »
Read this blog post I found on Bogleheads.  It's really well done:

http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

There are a ton of great things to take away from this post, but for me it was that you should never find yourself negotiating salary before you're at the point that the job is yours, contingent upon a mutually agreeable salary number.  They have a ton of sunk cost in the process at that point and want you.  An extra $10-15k that wasn't available when they had other candidates all of a sudden is doable.

Regarding the HSA you mentioned, this won't be a negotiable point anywhere you interview.  If their plan is a HDHP and is eligible for an HSA then you'll be able to contribute to one.  If their plan doesn't qualify for an HSA then you can't do anything to change that.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 10:33:31 AM by MooseOutFront »

lefty

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2014, 10:23:05 AM »
(a) $55k and $60k are both a complete joke of a salary for any job in San Francisco (or anywhere, but especially in SF), especially if you have a master's degree! Three times that wouldn't be unrealistic, or maybe as low as $100k depending on the industry, but certainly not lower.
(b) $2-3k is a complete joke of a relocation bonus. It should be more like $10k.
(c) There's no reason to negotiate if you're only going to ask for trivially more. Ask for a lot more.
(d) Don't believe claims about future raises.

From what I'm reading, this company sounds ready and willing to exploit the shit out of you. Be careful.


+1 agreed!
If this info helps, I've had 3 offers in the bay area this year and all 3 were below $100k. All of them were tech/software engineering positions. Maybe I'm just unlucky or I'm not seeking out the awesome employers but needless to say, I've walked away from all 3 of them.
I wouldn't do it if I were you.




juuustin

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2014, 10:32:25 AM »
deborah makes a good point. Stuff like the mechanics of health care, 401(k) plans, or vacation days, are not usually going to be negotiable. That said, I don't know why you would assume 10 days would be the default. My company offers 21.


But really, you just need to walk away. The insane lowball salary number they've floated is a gigantic red flag and a sign of all sorts of shit you want to stay very far away from.
10 days would be abysmal, in my opinion, unless they differentiate between vacation days and sick days.  If that is the case, then 10 vacation days totally separate from sick wouldn't be as awful, but still not great.  For perspective, I am starting a new job in January and as an entry level employee will receive 25 days PTO per year.  I rarely, if ever, take sick days, so I am viewing this as 5 full weeks of vacation.  Can't wait.

Ricky

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 01:00:49 PM »
FWIW, if you don't find anything else within the timeframe that you need it in, it is possible to live in SF cheaply. But, it will be extremely frugal living I would imagine, and still relatively more expensive when compared to other lower CoL areas.

This was in another section of the forum:

http://wlimdo.com/how-to-survive-in-sf-as-a-broke-startup

Lots of trade offs in living that type of life though so look before you leap.

$500/mo prob won't happen but even if you could keep it under $1500 a month you would be fine for a while as you get experience.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2014, 01:04:17 PM by Ricky »

catccc

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2014, 01:43:56 PM »
I've found (in a totally different career, accounting) that salaries aren't well adjusted for cost of living.  I went from the very expensive DC metro area to a suburb of Philly and was able to find positions that paid just as much as those in DC.  And when I was in DC, a colleague of mine moved to a very low COL area in North Carolina, and was getting a comparable salary.

I would suggest looking in a lower COL area.

But I don't think negotiating for $5K is a bad thing.  I did it in my last round of negotiations.  It wasn't really a negotiation, it went much like this:
HR lady- "So, let's talk numbers, how would you feel about $80K?"
Me-  "Actually, I was thinking closer to $85K."
HR lady - "Okay, we can do that!"

It was so quick and easy my husband thought I should have asked for more, but I wasn't there to squeeze as much as possible out of them.  I wanted the job, too.  $85K is fair and adequate compensation for the job.  Honestly, I would have taken it at $80.  But I truly did have $85K in mind going in.

stor_stark

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2015, 09:50:47 AM »
Just to provide some resolution to this topic for those that contributed a couple of months ago, I have recently accepted an engineering position in the Denver metro area for $75k with a small-ish signing bonus and some annual bonus potential. For my field, I feel really happy with this compensation for my first job out of school and think this position will be a great match for my education and skill set. Denver obviously isn't the cheapest place in the world to live, but it beats the heck out of NY and SF, where most of my other opportunities would have been.

Thanks to everyone who told me to get the hell away from San Francisco and be patient. It paid off, and I feel like the path to FI is officially beginning for me. Cheers!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 09:55:24 AM by stor_stark »

chuckaluck

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2015, 02:17:23 AM »
Congrats stor_stark!  Colorado is a great state to live in.

chasesfish

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2015, 05:05:21 AM »
Congratulations, you made the right choice!

stor_stark

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #23 on: January 26, 2015, 09:17:33 AM »
Thanks, chuckaluck and chasesfish. I'm really excited to be moving to Colorado. The financial details made it the obvious choice, but I also feel like living in this region will help me in the journey to becoming the type of person I'm trying to strive to be - healthy, happy and in tune with nature.

JLee

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #24 on: January 26, 2015, 09:43:38 AM »
Just to provide some resolution to this topic for those that contributed a couple of months ago, I have recently accepted an engineering position in the Denver metro area for $75k with a small-ish signing bonus and some annual bonus potential. For my field, I feel really happy with this compensation for my first job out of school and think this position will be a great match for my education and skill set. Denver obviously isn't the cheapest place in the world to live, but it beats the heck out of NY and SF, where most of my other opportunities would have been.

Thanks to everyone who told me to get the hell away from San Francisco and be patient. It paid off, and I feel like the path to FI is officially beginning for me. Cheers!

Awesome. $75k in Denver is worth about $117k in SF, so you definitely made the right call.

gatorNic

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #25 on: January 26, 2015, 10:10:57 AM »
Right call.  I live in the bay area and 55K would a been ridiculous.  You certainly wouldn't have been in the city and forget about FIRE.

nawhite

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2015, 10:58:15 AM »
Thanks, chuckaluck and chasesfish. I'm really excited to be moving to Colorado. The financial details made it the obvious choice, but I also feel like living in this region will help me in the journey to becoming the type of person I'm trying to strive to be - healthy, happy and in tune with nature.

Congrats on the new job and the move to Denver. It really is a great place. Let me help with your first step on being "in tune with nature." Denver (and the state of Colorado as a whole) doesn't have enough water to support all the people moving here plus all the agriculture in the state. Most of our water comes from the Colorado River which is so overdrawn that it has reached the Pacific Ocean for only ~3 days of the past 10 years. Also, about 65% of our electricity comes from coal. 2 recommendations for you. 1) sign up for Xcel Energy's Windsource program so you aren't getting your power from Coal. 2) Be extremely conservative watering your lawn in the summer. Let it go brown, I promise it will come back. Accept that you live in a desert.

That being said, enjoy the outdoors while you're here, it really is spectacular! If you'd like to go whitewater rafting or kayaking, let me know as that is my part time fun job.

stor_stark

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2015, 11:19:31 AM »
Thanks, chuckaluck and chasesfish. I'm really excited to be moving to Colorado. The financial details made it the obvious choice, but I also feel like living in this region will help me in the journey to becoming the type of person I'm trying to strive to be - healthy, happy and in tune with nature.

Congrats on the new job and the move to Denver. It really is a great place. Let me help with your first step on being "in tune with nature." Denver (and the state of Colorado as a whole) doesn't have enough water to support all the people moving here plus all the agriculture in the state. Most of our water comes from the Colorado River which is so overdrawn that it has reached the Pacific Ocean for only ~3 days of the past 10 years. Also, about 65% of our electricity comes from coal. 2 recommendations for you. 1) sign up for Xcel Energy's Windsource program so you aren't getting your power from Coal. 2) Be extremely conservative watering your lawn in the summer. Let it go brown, I promise it will come back. Accept that you live in a desert.

That being said, enjoy the outdoors while you're here, it really is spectacular! If you'd like to go whitewater rafting or kayaking, let me know as that is my part time fun job.

Thanks for the information - definitely appreciated. I don't plan on having a lawn at this point, so that shouldn't be a problem. I do need to be more conscious, in general, about my personal water consumption though.

What's the price premium on signing up for the Windsource premium through Xcel? I'm definitely willing to pay a little more for a more sustainable source, and I have a feeling it will make me more cognizant of my own energy consumption habits.

I might have to take you up on the kayaking after I get settled in. Sounds fun!

nawhite

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2015, 01:51:26 PM »
Thanks, chuckaluck and chasesfish. I'm really excited to be moving to Colorado. The financial details made it the obvious choice, but I also feel like living in this region will help me in the journey to becoming the type of person I'm trying to strive to be - healthy, happy and in tune with nature.

Congrats on the new job and the move to Denver. It really is a great place. Let me help with your first step on being "in tune with nature." Denver (and the state of Colorado as a whole) doesn't have enough water to support all the people moving here plus all the agriculture in the state. Most of our water comes from the Colorado River which is so overdrawn that it has reached the Pacific Ocean for only ~3 days of the past 10 years. Also, about 65% of our electricity comes from coal. 2 recommendations for you. 1) sign up for Xcel Energy's Windsource program so you aren't getting your power from Coal. 2) Be extremely conservative watering your lawn in the summer. Let it go brown, I promise it will come back. Accept that you live in a desert.

That being said, enjoy the outdoors while you're here, it really is spectacular! If you'd like to go whitewater rafting or kayaking, let me know as that is my part time fun job.

Thanks for the information - definitely appreciated. I don't plan on having a lawn at this point, so that shouldn't be a problem. I do need to be more conscious, in general, about my personal water consumption though.

What's the price premium on signing up for the Windsource premium through Xcel? I'm definitely willing to pay a little more for a more sustainable source, and I have a feeling it will make me more cognizant of my own energy consumption habits.

I might have to take you up on the kayaking after I get settled in. Sounds fun!

Price premium on windsource is 2.16 cents per kWh. So it goes from ~$0.11/kWh to ~$0.13/kWh. Well worth it in my opinion.

On the water consumption front, February actually has double significance on water conservation. If you're on Denver Water, your sewer bill for the year is based on your water usage in February. So if you can decrease your water use (even temporarily) in February, it will save you money all year long.

YTProphet

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #29 on: January 26, 2015, 02:11:24 PM »
Just to provide some resolution to this topic for those that contributed a couple of months ago, I have recently accepted an engineering position in the Denver metro area for $75k with a small-ish signing bonus and some annual bonus potential. For my field, I feel really happy with this compensation for my first job out of school and think this position will be a great match for my education and skill set. Denver obviously isn't the cheapest place in the world to live, but it beats the heck out of NY and SF, where most of my other opportunities would have been.

Thanks to everyone who told me to get the hell away from San Francisco and be patient. It paid off, and I feel like the path to FI is officially beginning for me. Cheers!

Thanks for the updat! Also, a big congratulations! That's a sweet salary for your first gig. You'll have more money than you know what to do with it (although since you're Mustachian you will know what to do with it)!

Gone Fishing

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2015, 02:34:39 PM »
My personal rules for negotiating-Do my home work, have options, never take the first offer, counter big, never take the second offer, split the difference.  If I have to live with the other party I stop here.  If it is a one time transaction,  I may go several more rounds, until the other party is ready to about ready to walk.  Always be polite, modest, and non-personal about the whole thing.  Can't say I am the best, but I always try to get something.

Someone on the forum has a good signature line that goes like this:  "You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."     
« Last Edit: January 26, 2015, 02:36:17 PM by So Close »

stor_stark

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #31 on: January 26, 2015, 02:54:07 PM »
Thanks, chuckaluck and chasesfish. I'm really excited to be moving to Colorado. The financial details made it the obvious choice, but I also feel like living in this region will help me in the journey to becoming the type of person I'm trying to strive to be - healthy, happy and in tune with nature.

Congrats on the new job and the move to Denver. It really is a great place. Let me help with your first step on being "in tune with nature." Denver (and the state of Colorado as a whole) doesn't have enough water to support all the people moving here plus all the agriculture in the state. Most of our water comes from the Colorado River which is so overdrawn that it has reached the Pacific Ocean for only ~3 days of the past 10 years. Also, about 65% of our electricity comes from coal. 2 recommendations for you. 1) sign up for Xcel Energy's Windsource program so you aren't getting your power from Coal. 2) Be extremely conservative watering your lawn in the summer. Let it go brown, I promise it will come back. Accept that you live in a desert.

That being said, enjoy the outdoors while you're here, it really is spectacular! If you'd like to go whitewater rafting or kayaking, let me know as that is my part time fun job.

Thanks for the information - definitely appreciated. I don't plan on having a lawn at this point, so that shouldn't be a problem. I do need to be more conscious, in general, about my personal water consumption though.

What's the price premium on signing up for the Windsource premium through Xcel? I'm definitely willing to pay a little more for a more sustainable source, and I have a feeling it will make me more cognizant of my own energy consumption habits.

I might have to take you up on the kayaking after I get settled in. Sounds fun!

Price premium on windsource is 2.16 cents per kWh. So it goes from ~$0.11/kWh to ~$0.13/kWh. Well worth it in my opinion.

On the water consumption front, February actually has double significance on water conservation. If you're on Denver Water, your sewer bill for the year is based on your water usage in February. So if you can decrease your water use (even temporarily) in February, it will save you money all year long.

Awesome, an extra $.02/kWh is definitely worth it to me.

Hey It's Me

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #32 on: January 26, 2015, 04:08:23 PM »
Just to provide some resolution to this topic for those that contributed a couple of months ago, I have recently accepted an engineering position in the Denver metro area for $75k with a small-ish signing bonus and some annual bonus potential. For my field, I feel really happy with this compensation for my first job out of school and think this position will be a great match for my education and skill set. Denver obviously isn't the cheapest place in the world to live, but it beats the heck out of NY and SF, where most of my other opportunities would have been.

Thanks to everyone who told me to get the hell away from San Francisco and be patient. It paid off, and I feel like the path to FI is officially beginning for me. Cheers!


YES! Congratulations!!! :)

davef

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #33 on: January 26, 2015, 04:09:03 PM »
What a success story! you work in interview preparation likely netted you 20k per year for the rest of your life, even if you switch employers.

For future reference or for other readers. I have taken lower wages at the interview to get my foot in the door and negotiated that a review after 6 months dictate salary going forward.
To begin with, they offered 55k and I thought I was worth 75k. I ended up taking 60k per year because I love the job/location/ training the position offered. I got a bump to 77k at the 6 month review, and another bump to 87k two years later.  Get it in writing, and tell them what you expect, And to tell them they can expect and excellent performance over the next 6 months, and more of the same afterwords. 

McStacherson

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2015, 04:22:25 PM »
(a) $55k and $60k are both a complete joke of a salary for any job in San Francisco (or anywhere, but especially in SF), especially if you have a master's degree! Three times that wouldn't be unrealistic, or maybe as low as $100k depending on the industry, but certainly not lower.
(b) $2-3k is a complete joke of a relocation bonus. It should be more like $10k.
(c) There's no reason to negotiate if you're only going to ask for trivially more. Ask for a lot more.
(d) Don't believe claims about future raises.

From what I'm reading, this company sounds ready and willing to exploit the shit out of you. Be careful.

Can you expand on this? Why is $60k a complete joke of a salary anywhere? I'd really like to know what you think is a decent salary in America and what field you'd need to be in to make that.

nawhite

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Re: Please help me negotiate the compensation for my first salaried job!
« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2015, 05:27:29 PM »
(a) $55k and $60k are both a complete joke of a salary for any job in San Francisco (or anywhere, but especially in SF), especially if you have a master's degree! Three times that wouldn't be unrealistic, or maybe as low as $100k depending on the industry, but certainly not lower.
(b) $2-3k is a complete joke of a relocation bonus. It should be more like $10k.
(c) There's no reason to negotiate if you're only going to ask for trivially more. Ask for a lot more.
(d) Don't believe claims about future raises.

From what I'm reading, this company sounds ready and willing to exploit the shit out of you. Be careful.

Can you expand on this? Why is $60k a complete joke of a salary anywhere? I'd really like to know what you think is a decent salary in America and what field you'd need to be in to make that.

It's not just America, it's San Francisco which has the 2nd highest cost of living of any city in the entire US. And it might be a decent salary for the average person, but we're talking about someone with a Masters Degree in some engineering discipline (usually at least 6 years of post secondary education, 4 for a Bachelors degree and 2+ more for a Masters degree). Nationwide I can't find an engineering discipline where the median starting salary for Masters graduates is below 55k (most have median starting salaries around $75k) and that is nationwide, not even including the fact that its San Francisco where the cost of living is 79% higher than the national average.