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How To Not Get Crushed In Your First Salary Negotiation

How To Not Get Crushed In Your First Salary Negotiation

It’s an unfortunate part of life, but becoming an adult also means taking financial responsibility for yourself. So we go out, find a job, and start paying the bills.

Or at least that’s the plan.

A 2015 CareerBuilder survey found that 19 percent of employees had trouble making ends meet every month. And among employed young adults, ages 18-24, 32 percent were unable to save any money in the previous year.

It takes time to figure out a budget and learn how to live within your means, but many young adults don’t even try for more money during their first salary negotiation. A 2015 NerdWallet survey found that 62 percent of recent college graduates didn’t attempt to negotiate after receiving their first job offer.

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It’d be great if employers just automatically offered you enough money to live comfortably, however that’s not always the case. It’s up to you to calculate what you need to maintain financial independence and then try to reach an agreement that’s as close to that number as possible.

Here are four real-life considerations you need to take into account in a salary negotiation:

Relocation and housing expenses

If your new job is in the same city you currently live in, you already know how much your rent is and what the cost of living is like in your area. However, if you’re moving for the job, it’s important to do research about the new city as early as possible. That way, you’ll know how much you’ll need to make in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

For instance, based on 2015 research from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, if you plan to live in Kentucky, you’ll need to make the equivalent of $13.14 an hour to pay for the average two bedroom apartment. That’s the state with lowest average rental cost in the U.S. If you move to California you’ll need to make almost double that to pay rent.

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Checking out apartments in the area you’re moving to on Craigslist gives you an even better idea of what rent typically runs and what target salary you should shoot for. Also, know that many organizations offer some kind of relocation assistance. But you might have to ask for the extra money during your salary negotiation.

Travel costs

Depending on how far you have to travel to get to the office, your travel expenses can begin to add up. Whether you decide to take public transportation or drive to work, you need to know how much it’s going to cost to go and earn your paycheck every day.

For example, if you have a 10-mile commute each way — which 2015 Brookings Institute research found was the average in many American metro areas — that’s 100 miles a week, to and from work. Not to mention, there’s the cost of car insurance. And if you have to drive on toll roads, getting to work can get expensive very quickly.

Student loans

For many new graduates, the burden of paying back student loans is overwhelming. A 2015 study by Student Loan Hero found that one in four college graduates still live with their parents because of the financial strain of their loans. One in nine would eat a tarantula if it helped pay off their debt faster.

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Once you’ve decided which repayment plan is right for you, find out how much you’ll have to pay each month. There’s a good chance that, after rent, loan payments could be your biggest expense, so be sure to know how much you’ll need.

Also remember to ask if your new organization has any kind of loan repayment assistance. It might not be offered to all employees or it might require you to take an overall salary cut, but it’s a fantastic perk to have.

Health insurance

If you’re lucky enough to still be covered by your parents’ insurance, it’ll definitely put less stress on your bank account. However, remember that eventually you’ll need your own. The sudden extra cost won’t necessarily coincide with a raise in pay, either.

Some employers offer coverage or assistance paying for company group plans. Before you enter your salary negotiation, get all the information on the benefits you qualify for, so you’ll know what portion of health care costs will fall on your shoulders.

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If your employer doesn’t offer any kind of health insurance, and you need to shop for it on your own, know that a low monthly premium isn’t always the best option for your long-term finances. Sure, a plan like that will be cheaper if you never get sick, but you’ll face higher copays if you do need to see a doctor. Fully research all your options, and find someone you trust to answer any questions you may have.

Getting a new job and becoming more adult can be very exciting. But, financially, it can also be a little scary. The best way to start taking control of your money is confidently negotiating the right salary for your lifestyle. Take the time to calculate how much new and unfamiliar expenses will cost you, so you’ll know when you’ve reached the right deal.

What other real-life considerations should be taken into account before a salary negotiations? Share in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: Death to the Stock Photo via deathtothestockphoto.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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