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Thread: Salary negotiation in the public sector

  1. #1
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Salary negotiation in the public sector

    I have a job interview next Friday at another municipality. I am pretty good at interviews and my experience probably will put me in a favourable position in landing the job. But I'm conflicted about whether, if offered, I would even accept the job.

    I really like the job I'm in right now, and I love my boss... best boss I've ever had. The co-workers are great. But the corporate culture here is changing and becoming more bureaucratic and rigid. Lots of new policies from HR governing employees, which are really starting to cause morale problems. Also, the community is the most expensive community in the area to live, but it is not interested in keeping up with the salaries of other cities in the area (or even with the inflation rate some years). So I applied for another job with about the same duties as I have now, supervising the same number of people that I do now, but the salary STARTS where my current salary grid ENDS. In a matter of a few years I can be bringing in $20,000 more than I do now. That's a big difference in my household.

    I was wondering if in the public sector anyone has been offered another job and has used it as a point of negotiation for a higher salary in their current job. Also, what can you negotiate when going into a new job other than salary (since my current vacation rate is better than what would be a the new job)? Although I'm an excellent negotiator when it comes to development and planning, I totally suck when it comes to negotiating salaries or trying to put a value on my abilities.

    Other background info: the commute will be longer (about 35 - 45 minutes each way) and I will not be able to carpool with BME as much. There also may be more night meetings than I have now (which is almost next to none).

    Advice and accounts of your own experiences are greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian donk's avatar
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    One thing I have heard of is an RRSP(registered retirement savings plan for our US friends) top up for senior staff.

    Other item may be a car allowance, depending on the amount of driving they expect you to do for work. This is a taxable benefit though and may not be worth it.
    Too lazy to beat myself up for being to lazy to beat myself up for being too lazy to... well you get the point....

  3. #3
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    I have a job interview next Friday at another municipality. I am pretty good at interviews and my experience probably will put me in a favourable position in landing the job. But I'm conflicted about whether, if offered, I would even accept the job.

    I really like the job I'm in right now, and I love my boss... best boss I've ever had. The co-workers are great. But the corporate culture here is changing and becoming more bureaucratic and rigid. Lots of new policies from HR governing employees, which are really starting to cause morale problems. Also, the community is the most expensive community in the area to live, but it is not interested in keeping up with the salaries of other cities in the area (or even with the inflation rate some years). So I applied for another job with about the same duties as I have now, supervising the same number of people that I do now, but the salary STARTS where my current salary grid ENDS. In a matter of a few years I can be bringing in $20,000 more than I do now. That's a big difference in my household.

    I was wondering if in the public sector anyone has been offered another job and has used it as a point of negotiation for a higher salary in their current job. Also, what can you negotiate when going into a new job other than salary (since my current vacation rate is better than what would be a the new job)? Although I'm an excellent negotiator when it comes to development and planning, I totally suck when it comes to negotiating salaries or trying to put a value on my abilities.

    Other background info: the commute will be longer (about 35 - 45 minutes each way) and I will not be able to carpool with BME as much. There also may be more night meetings than I have now (which is almost next to none).

    Advice and accounts of your own experiences are greatly appreciated.

    I'm not sure I'd play one against the other... that can hurt your future references. That said, if your current employer knows you interviewed, and have been offered the job, it isn't out of the ordinary to "seek advice" from your current boss. Note that you love your job, like your boss, and are happy... except you might not be able to pass up the salary increase. He'll understand. He might take into consideration the night meetings and longer commute, and offer something...

    I've negotiated salary and benefits with a new employer looking to hire me, but never with a current one... at least, not when I was out job hunting. (I've renegotiated my contract at this job 3 times in 3 years...)

    If you seriously have questions about your "worth", do this. Go over all the job postings you can find (Like on the APA website), and look at the requirements. If you fit the majority of them (no one has them all), write down the salary ranges. Once you have a dozen or so, toss out the high and low, then average them. That's a good indication of your salary range... Oh, and multiply by .21 to get the CND equivalent
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  4. #4
    Cyburbian pandersen's avatar
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    If you are seriously inclined to explore this other opportunity, ask about moving expenses. Also, if you concerned about increasingly rigid HR policies, ask about job intangibles like parking, compenstory time off, overtime, flextime, time and financial support for professional development activities etc. Also, try and find out why the position you're interested in has come available - a retirement, resignation, new position or firing - can provide an insight on the work environment. Bottom line, while it is true everyone has to eat, its hard to digest the groceries if your new boss turns out to be a pr**k!

    As for salary negotiation, as you say, the scale starts where your current position tops out so I wouldn't sweat that too much. My advice, unless asked directly at the interview, never discuss money at an initial interview. Wait for an offer to be made and only then inquire whether there is room to negotiate a starting salary. Hell, the last thing you want to do is say you have to have x dollars at the initial interview when they may have been prepared to offer you x +2.

    If you do decide to move, try and get your exisiting house repairs complete so you won't have to take a hit there.

    Hope this helps.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    I was in that position about 7 years ago. Happy in my job at the time, but saw a close to home municipal posting with much higher pay. I interviewed. I was offered it. I sat down with my boss and layed it on the table. He called a special session of the Common Council and they unanimously beat the offer on the table by a substantial figure. Upon declining the future job, I made the administrator a verbal promise not to look again for at least 2 years, which I kept.

    My father always said "you cut your best deal walking in the door". If you ask for more vacation, make sure it is written to be +XX years starting credit on the years of service calendar, and not just a few extra days. This is kind of hard to explain, but we had a situation where someone thought they were getting "10 years of service credit" to get 4 weeks, meaning they thought they would be treated as if they were an employee for 10 years, would work 5 more years, and get 5 weeks thereafter. In reality they got 4 weeks but started at the bottom of the scale, meaning they had to work 10 more years to hit their current vacation amount, then an additional 5 to get more days to reach 5 weeks. Big difference!

  6. #6
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Thanks for all the great advice so far everyone. I know I negotiated horribly when I came up here. As a result, I currently have planners I supervise that make nearly as much as I do (less than 1% difference). I've always been bad with my salary negotiations.

    As a follow up question... how long is 'reasonable' to consider a job offer? This would be a middle management position. I used to ask to think about it for 24 hours, but in reality I think there is a lot more that I would have to weigh this time around... I can see me easily needing a few days to a week. But I don't know what is typically acceptable.

  7. #7
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by nerudite
    As a follow up question... how long is 'reasonable' to consider a job offer? This would be a middle management position. I used to ask to think about it for 24 hours, but in reality I think there is a lot more that I would have to weigh this time around... I can see me easily needing a few days to a week. But I don't know what is typically acceptable.
    I've always asked for a week to mull job offers in the public sector. Never been an issue the 2 times I've asked for it.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    up to 5 business days is typical.

  9. #9

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    A week to decide is quite reasonable.

    I am dealing with your situation re salary now, but from the other side. My ZA has a better job offer, but I think would prefer to stay. He is using it to ask for a raise of about 10%. That's reasonable in the big picture, and if I had a year to work toward it, I could make it happen, or at least come close, but it is hard to be on the receiving end with just a couple of days to make a decision that involves a whole bunch of other factors. I'm not saying that you shouldn't do it, but before you do, you need to assess as accurately as you can how realistic it is for them to respond to your request.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian pandersen's avatar
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    I think a week is reasonable.

    On a side note, don't know your status up here in Cunnuckistan regarding your status under NAFTA, but if you go for the new job, make sure you have a signed letter of offer of employment (in hand) before resigning from your current position. If your up here on a TN1 Visa (as I was when working as a planner in the U.S. of A, I was told that if I switched jobs down there I would physically need to exit the U.S. of A and re-enter the country (with letter of offer of employment and proof of planning credentials) for the new job.

    Somehow or other I ended up out here on the Prairies

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