Remote salary negotiation
September 24, 2012 10:02 AM   Subscribe

New potential employer wants me to propose a salary, and I have a question about how to value the working arrangement/benefits against my previous job.

I'm currently in the process of relocating and at the same time negotiating a couple different job offers. The one that appears the most promising would be working remotely for a company based on the opposite coast from where I'd be living, and in my last conversation with the hiring manager last week he asked me to provide a salary proposal based on the assumption that they'd pay for an HSA package, pay my travel once a month or so to the main office, and that I'd have a flexible schedule so long as I worked more or less full time.

The employer is a company that I worked with extensively in my last job, so I have a built-in knowledge base around their product which I think makes me fairly valuable as a new employee; however, the way the hiring manager was talking made me feel like he specifically wants me to consider the value of working remotely in place of salary (he specifically said something like, "We might not pay the highest salary, but we'll provide stock options, your time isn't tracked, and you can more or less set your own schedule).

Realistically, I could probably live off of a number close to my previous salary (but not much less, and of course I'd like more). I'm considering requesting about $10-15k more than I made previously and negotiating from there as needed - but should I be more aggressive? How much should I factor in the working-remotely and freedom of schedule-setting as a consideration in my dollar request? Thanks in advance.
posted by DuckGirl to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think your idea is good since you can always go down but not up.

In a way it's unfortunate to be put in the position of proposing a number because generally I think of that as a "can't win" situation - if you propose too low, you risk selling yourself short, and if you propose too high, you risk putting yourself out of consideration or getting some kind of negative reaction. That being said, I still think it's to your benefit to go on the high side, for the reason I mentioned above and also because it sounds like the salary figure is more important to you than the scheduling flexibility and working remotely.
posted by Dansaman at 10:20 AM on September 24, 2012

How much should I factor in the working-remotely and freedom of schedule-setting as a consideration in my dollar request?

This the sort of question that only you can answer for yourself. Here are some things to take into account as you consider how you feel:

1. Does "set your own schedule" mean you can work any 40 hours (or whatever it's going to be) out of any 7 day period? Or, will you have to pretty much adhere to the employer's schedule?

2. Because you'd be on the opposite coast, how might that impact your work schedule? For example, if you're on the East Coast (and employer on the West Coast) will you need to be available until 8pm Eastern time (especially on a Friday night, when you might prefer to be out doing something else)? If you're on the West Coast, would you have to be up at the crack of dawn?

Other things:

your time isn't tracked

Not sure this counts for a lot. Even if you were on site, would your time actually be "tracked"?

we'll provide stock options

If this is already a publicly-traded company, you might put some small value on this. If not, don't hold your breath waiting for any value to this "perk".

I'm considering requesting about $10-15k more than I made previously and negotiating from there as needed

This is probably a good place to start.
posted by John Borrowman at 10:26 AM on September 24, 2012

If the new position is roughly equivalent to your past position in responsibility/skills/knowledge I would not ask for more than a 10% increase unless you were significantly underpaid in the last position. I personally think being able to work from home is a significant benefit ( transportation. clothes, food misc.) and I assume meets some of your needs--flexibility, schedule, etc. Hoping you resolve this in a way that works for both you and your future employer.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:40 AM on September 24, 2012

Counter that an important part of your decision to work for them is to see what they feel you are worth and request a detailed offer with full details.

It isn't rock paper scissors and they want you. All you can do by offering up the first number is lose.

Also do not accept stock options and non-tracked time as a substitutes for money. They won't track your time but they will track your output which tracks your time indirectly and working from home is not as big a benefit as a lot of people think. It turns your home into an office you can never leave. Stock options are vague promises. Money is a real promise.

Changing jobs/positions is the only time you get a chance for a significant pay increase. Don't cheat yourself out of it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:53 AM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Never EVER think of stock options as a substitute for salary. NEVER. They are pure gravy typically served over pie-in-the-sky.

You don't know your value to them, so you're actually the worst person to supply a number. This is from salary advice threads I've read before, which also tend to be of the "don't be the first person to offer a number," though I'm not so hard-headed on that and you can certainly offer a number 50% higher than what you're making now and start there. That is, if you're going to start with a number, make it high and don't be afraid to make it higher. You and they both know they want you.

So that leaves flexi-schedgy (sorry) as the defining feature? Well, your power consumption is going to go up if you're working at home, so account for an increase in bills related to increased time spent in your home.

Is HSA the only health-related compensation they're offering? Do compare it to your current benefits.

As much as I hate the term, do you know what the KPIs are for the position? Key-performance indicators are the reasons they'll use to fire you, so you should know where the boundaries are, skillswise, before you supply a number.

Also, your existing domain knowledge is indeed that valuable. Don't discount it, and maybe you should be thinking in terms of a senior-whatever-you-are regardless whether there exists a senior-whatever in reality. You'll be able to hit the ground running ("providing value to the company") much quicker than anybody else, and probably at a higher rate of production.

You can parry by saying that you do want to work with them given your existing knowledge and experience, but you're concerned that they can't compensate their employees at even market rates. You're talking to other people, you have options, why should you take less from this particular company if you can, say, make more or the same even without the domain knowledge? /rant

we'll provide stock options

If this is already a publicly-traded company, you might put some small value on this.

No, in that case you would value stock grants, with employee purchase plans following a distance 2nd.
posted by rhizome at 2:06 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Disregard if you've already done this, but and similar sites are a good reference for salary ranges. You can search by company, job title,etc. It helped me with "what if I ask for too much" anxiety.
posted by natasha_k at 9:31 PM on September 24, 2012

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