Working pro bono is commendable but it does not pay the bills. IT professionals and engineers have a skill set that is in great demand by employers. These highly talented folks justifiably ask for wages that are above what an average worker earns. Nevertheless, both IT technicians and engineers must be careful.
People applying for a job want to know the pay they can reasonably expect. There are websites such as Glassdoor that tell you what many employers are paying on average. There are also wage surveys but, be careful about them. These give market averages, but the compensation policy of the company with whom you are interviewing might not emphasize high wages; the policy may be a mix of below market average pay and superior employee benefits.
Wage Offer Enhancements
Insisting on a top wage in salary negotiations, with a take it or leave it attitude, is dangerous. It encourages an employer just to leave it and start looking for another person. Using diplomacy is important. Be aware that the best answer to a salary question means never be demanding.
If you are determined to make more money then perhaps it is worth your while to look at wage enhancements. These will make it easier for an employer to pay you more.
- The Type of Job: Different types of jobs command different compensations. A project manager in IT must be earning different salary that a project manager for an oil & gas company. Focus on the job conditions: Is it a field job? What percentage of my job duties would be travelling? What is the number of team or the value of project you are supposed to lead? These factors should guide you during salary negotiations.
- Experience matters: A recent college graduate cannot expect a salary offer comparable to an employee with five years’ experience. If you have work experience, or an internship experience, highlight that in the interview and focus on how all you did made you a better professional.
- Concentrate on a range: You will be asked in the interview what are your salary expectations. It is a sensitive question, but the answer is simple. If you have researched what engineers and IT professionals are currently earning in the area, you can construct a desirable pay range. Let the interviewer know that you are expecting a salary somewhere in that range. It permits you considerable leeway.
- The best answer: The best answer for salary expectation in an interview is not a given figure. That amount could rule you out. Here is an answer that will get the hiring manager’s attention: “I am asking for a salary that reflects my credentials and experience. I would be interested in wages somewhere in the range of (state your range).”
- Be willing to transfer: The full reason is explained below, and employers do appreciate someone who has no trouble relocating.
Benefits Instead of Cash
Money is not everything; benefits also matter. Research shows that good benefits influence the acceptance rate of job offers. Salary negotiations can be influenced by making certain benefits available. These are not always insurance benefits, either.
These can be perks that make the working day much easier. Telecommuting from home, receiving assistance for bus fare, and even a paid parking spot are possibilities that increase the value of your salary offer and do not add significantly to your tax liability.
Labor Markets Will Determine Pay
The metropolitan area where you live, such as Toronto or Calgary, will play a role in how much you are paid. Engineering professionals and IT technicians can look at wages offered in various areas, and you might consider relocating. When looking at these opportunities, you must understand that sometimes the higher wages compensate for living in an area where there is a higher cost of living.
Possibly, the best of all possible worlds would be to accept a position in a high paying market and then request a transfer to a city where the cost of living is lower. It is important, however, with the transfer to be certain you will continue to be paid according to the same pay scale as the place from which you transferred (i.e. transferring to Medicine Hat but being paid as if you were in Toronto).
The Canadian economy always has a need for IT and engineering people. Your salary offer will be determined by a lot of factors and you do have the ability to influence some of these to your advantage. Be certain to negotiate your wages based on realistic expectations backed up by demonstrable facts. You should remember to be flexible in negotiations and settle for a fair amount instead of an extravagant one. You certainly should be paid for what you are worth, and if it is already among the stars, there is no point yearning for the moon.