Great Insurance Jobs’ Cofounder Roger Lear is here to help you overcome obstacles to your career and job search. This month, he offers tips on negotiating salaries.
Q: What is the best way to negotiate my salary to make sure I am maximized for my years of experience?
A: This is such a great question because salary negotiations with a current or new employer is always tricky for so many. On top of that, the pandemic has made it even more interesting. On the one hand, you hear about the four million people who have not returned to work since the pandemic, the 10 million job openings, and the desperation employers have when it comes to hiring people. On the other hand, four million people are quitting their jobs monthly to go to “greener” pastures. These once-in-a-lifetime events uncover a severe supply and demand issue that should benefit your ability to negotiate a larger salary. The challenge is figuring out how this is accomplished. Unlike the supply-and-demand issue in your local supermarket, where the cost of bacon increases automatically, this is not the standard at most employers. To negotiate a better salary in the insurance industry, consider these ideas:
The grass is not always greener. The easiest way to increase your salary is to ask your current employer for a raise. The tricky part is figuring out what is realistic. Most insurance companies have salary grades. When you approach your manager and ask for a raise, you will have a great result if it fits in the salary grade and they need to retain you. Innovative companies automatically escalate compensation for their employees. But for those that don’t, you will have to ask. If you like your current job, do not interview at other companies before asking for a salary increase. The biggest mistake happens when you get a job offer from a competitor, put your two-week notice in, and suddenly, your current company matches the offer, and you stay. Save yourself the time and ask before interviewing, and you will find out exactly where your current employer stands.
Executive recruiters can be a big help. Contact a third-party recruiter if you want to change jobs or just get information on what companies are paying for people with your experience. On top of that, many recruiters have jobs they are working on that pay more and have better benefits. The National Insurance Recruiting Association (InsuranceRecruiters.com) is a great place to identify outstanding insurance recruiters.
Negotiate benefits. Money is essential, but your company may not be able to meet your salary requirements. However, if you like your job, the pandemic has forced companies to manage their workforces like never before. If you liked working from home or the flexible work schedule that came with the pandemic, let your employer know you want it to continue. If you are switching companies, negotiate your vacation upfront. If you want three weeks of vacation and they are offering two, just ask. This usually is never a deal killer. Finally, if the new company isn’t providing a good increase in your base salary, many times the employer can give you money in the form of a signing bonus. Just ask.
Don’t disclose your current salary when interviewing with a new company. If asked about your current salary, let them know you would like to keep that confidential. If you want the job, let them know that followed by “I would consider your strongest offer.” Same thing on the application—leave the salary box empty. Twenty-one states have already outlawed salary history questions. If you interview well and a company wants to hire you, they will usually present you with a reasonable offer. Once you have the offer, don’t hesitate to counter the offer for more money or benefits like extra vacation. Employers expect this, and you will not lose the job if they cannot meet your counter. A $5,000 increase over five years with raises can be close to $40,000 in realized income by just asking upfront.