Career & Education

How do I negotiate an attractive salary package?

Career Advisor

Carolyn Marie Smith

Sunday, May 26, 2019

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Dear Career Advisor:

I have been enjoying reading the responses you have given to others. I will be attending a job interview soon and I'm concerned about how to approach the subject of salary. Are you able to provide me with any suggestions as to how to negotiate an attractive salary package from my prospective employer?

Yours truly,

Candice C

Dear Candice:

Thank you for reading the Jamaica Observer. Please continue to send your comments and questions to the Career Advisor.

Salary negotiation is a very sensitive, yet significant issue. It is important to do your initial groundwork which, ideally, should begin with research of the job market. Having an idea of your worth as a professional and that of the position itself puts you in a better position to get a reasonable offer, rather than being solely at the mercy of the employer's discretion.

If you are new to the job market it would be useful to talk to people who are in similar fields and/or job functions. Resist the temptation to ask a person directly how much they are earning; instead, ask what is the salary range for new entrants who possess similar skill sets to what you are bringing to the industry.

Remember, too, that in an interview it is not for you to raise the issue of salary as, at that point, you have not yet been given a job offer. If, however, the question is raised, make a general comment along the lines of your having an open mind and being willing to pursue further discussion once you are clear on all the demands of the position and their proposed offer.

As soon as there is a job offer on the table, you may respond to the salary question by providing a range rather than a fixed figure. Again, we stress that this range should be informed by your research and consideration of key factors such as:

• size of the company and its operations;

• average gross salary for the position within that company;

• the value of your professional qualifications.

If the initial offer is not to your satisfaction, ask for time to think it over, rather than make an outright rejection on the spot. Sometimes, that approach will prompt the employer to submit a better offer. If another offer is not forthcoming and the employer really is unable to make adjustments, consider the organisational culture, benefits, and the job itself before walking away from the offer. Perhaps these would make it worth the sacrifice.

Another approach would be to discuss opportunities for career advancement, and performance or merit-based compensation with your prospective employer.

All the best with your upcoming interview.

Carolyn Marie Smith is associate vice-president of student services at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville, Manchester. Submit your questions to her at

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