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First year salary at a new job

The next time you find yourself having trouble negotiating your new salary and you cannot get the employer to up the ante 50 to 10% then ask yourself if there is a middle-man like a recruiter or agent in between.

For as many horror stories as there are out there; there are also great examples of recruiters that really know their business, their clients business, the marketplace, cost of living, relocation costs and plenty of other supporting details. The problem is that all of these recruiters or headhunters are getting about the same compensation.  And that compensation is based on your first year's wages.

One such company wanted to offer a lower base salary with a prorated annual bonus. With significant increases in the second year and beyond. Another company had a higher base salary but had a lower bonus and only paid half of the health insurance premium.

But this is what you can take to the bank. Before the company starts the interviewing and hiring process someone in management determines what they need in terms of headcount and what that is going to cost for at least the first 5 years. This is done so that costs can be projected and capitalized over the projects you'd be working on. It's also the difference between getting a contractor for a few months and hiring a fulltime resource.

Now when calculating this number it includes the cost of acquisition. Whether that is private advertising or through a recruiter or headhunter. It's in there. On top of that, the company is also going to want to lowball you; but that's not really that important when you consider.

(i) if you can help it avoid the recruiters that simply cast wide nets.  I get at least 10 to 15 emails and phone calls a week by some recruiter somewhere that wants to present me for some project. These guys are just fisherman. They do not have any real contact with the client. That function is performed by a different person within the company. (think about the last time you bought a car; there was the guy who was there when you walked in and kicked the first tire and then there was the guy you negotiated the deal with).

(ii) some recruiters will actually prep you for interview. Give you hints as to what is important. What talking points are key. I recently had an interview with a company that had a major crash. Some people might think of this as 100% bad but I saw this as 100% opportunity.  I wanted my recruiter to communicate to the client that I wanted some slack time in my schedule to prevent these sorts of things from happening again in the future. If the message actually got to the client it should make a considerable difference.

(iii) So if you can help it; try to get the job on your own and from there you can negotiate a stronger salary. It's going to feel dirty but once you are passed the salary and benefits discussion and you have the compensation you want you will be a happier person and ready to work on the task at hand. You certainly should not be thinking about the next interview.

And a side note for employers who use recruiters. Very well. If you do not have the time or inclination to interview and hire people then consider contracting that function too. But at least it'll be fixed cost. In the end, however, if you fail to compensate candidates for their experience and contribution you are just going to undermine your own mission.


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