Great Insurance Jobs’ Cofounder Roger Lear is here to help you overcome obstacles to your career and job search. This month, he offers advice on salary discussions during the interview process.
Q: Now that many states cannot ask me how much money I currently make, how should I negotiate salary in my next claims job?
A: If you are interviewing for a job in certain states, it is now illegal for employers to ask you about your salary history. The salary question has been banned in Massachusetts, New York City, Philadelphia, California, Oregon, and Puerto Rico. In the insurance industry, this is a considerable change for employers and job seekers and will undoubtedly affect how a job offer will be put together.
In the insurance claims world, most positions from adjusters to claims managers fall into a “salary grade.” Salary grades are different at every company, but they usually have large ranges. It is not unusual to see a range from $50,000-$90,000 for a claims job, for instance. Before the new salary disclosure ban rule, an employer would just ask you what you make and typically offer 10-15 percent more. In many cases, they would ask for a copy of your last paycheck to “verify” your salary.
Before banning the salary question, job seekers who made a couple of job changes (even if they were happy) did so to increase their salaries quicker than taking minimal annual increases of two-to-three percent with their current companies. Someone who stays at the same company for 10 years is always $7,000-$10,000 behind someone doing the same job but who made two job changes in the same time frame. Paying someone based on what they currently make versus what their value will be to the company is one thing that I never understood in the insurance industry.
For many, this will be the first time they will have the opportunity to negotiate their salaries based on their value to a company, not what they are currently making. The challenge is understanding how to accomplish this. For many, it can be challenging. Here are some of my tips on how to handle salary negotiation now that you have the opportunity to get the best offer.
You have to know what you should be making. Ask other claims professionals you know what they make. Use sites like GlassDoor.com and go to the company that you are interviewing with and see if you can find salary information. Look at all of the competitors, as well. Most claims professionals know if their current companies are paying market conditions. If you feel that you are paid fairly, then a realistic (and good offer) would be a 15 percent increase. This is a great place to start if you have to give a number.
If they ask you, “What kind of money are you looking for?” resist giving them a number. Instead, let them know that you would like to learn more about the position so you can factor these responsibilities into your compensation package. Don’t make the mistake of throwing out a number way below what an employer is actually thinking.
You have to understand benefits before telling an employer a final number. How much will health insurance cost you every month? If you use your own vehicle, how does that work? Do they have tuition reimbursement for earning industry-recognized designations? What types of technologies do they have to help in the claims resolution process?
Money follows great jobs. The real deal with salary negotiation is to have a great interview that answers all of your questions about the company. Once you identify that this is a place you would love to work, let the employer know how exciting this opportunity is and that you would consider their strongest offer. If they try to pin you down, then let them know your number or even a range. Make sure your low amount in the range is acceptable and a good increase from your current position.
The salary question ban should help everyone in the future get to their actual value with a company versus being based on what you currently make. That is why a great interview will help the employer present you with an offer you can’t refuse!
Got a career question for Roger? Email him at Roger@GreatInsuranceJobs.com.