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Thread: Salary negotiation: UPDATE

  1. #1
    Cyburbian
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    Salary negotiation: UPDATE

    So I went full-time, salaried in the beginning of June. If any of you that responded remember, I asked for advice on salary negotiation and what a fair asking price was given my responsibilities and my education.

    Almost everyone agreed that somewhere in the neighborhood of $40k/yr was appropriate for someone with a Master's degree in urban planning and real estate development in the Midwest, particularly St. Louis, MO-IL region.

    Well, here's my situation, I accepted the position because it was offering me a lot of responsibility that I thought would give me an advantage but I'm quickly realizing that my net take home pay annually is about $25,000. I do not have health insurance and they expect me to find it myself and I'm assuming contribute to part of it. Add on top of that, I will have student loans due in about six months.

    I am going to start looking for new opportunities immediately. Does anyone think I'm being unreasonable?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Nope.....

    You gotta look out for number one and you need to take care of yourself.......cause they ain't gonna be doing that......

    Now, do a good job while there, have a positive attitude....don't burn bridges.....and tough it out for a year if possible......if you can't last a year......well, just try......it looks better.....It may be worth a year of poverty and limited means to get that full year of good experience and a positive recommendation....

    Keep positive.....
    Skilled Adoxographer

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    ...only 10 more months to go...*sigh*

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Greenescapist's avatar
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    If you really get into a bind and can't pay everything, you can always call your student loan company and ask for a deferral. It's definitely a good idea to start paying it back, but if it will make you destitute, then the company will understand. That's a fairly regular request they get. Good luck finding a new job. Hopefully, you find one with health insurance.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian
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    I agree with everything The One said above. However, no health insurance is a BIG red flag. You can't afford to get in an accident or an illness with this job. I would start looking immediately. Depending on your student loan company, ask for a forbearance based on economic hardship.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian southern_yank's avatar
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    No health insurance is definitely a red flag. Even if you get private insurance, you'll probably be paying way more in premiums than you would with an employee program. If you have a pre-ex condition, you'll have to jump through hoops and pay even more for coverage. I say start looking for something else immediately. Very few jobs are worth the effort and money of procuring your own medical insurance.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Yikes, that's a rough situation. I'm surprised that a municipality wouldn't be able to do better than this. Nonprofits, perhaps, but not a local government. Besides the obvious problems, how do you like the job otherwise?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    I'm sorry. I didn't make it clear in my O.P. My position is with a private consulting firm that does planning and ED.

    The job is fine...I'm primarily in charge of a comp plan right now. It is the struggling with money and lack of health insurance that is making me a bit depressed.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    Based on your salary, I assumed that you were working on the municipal side. It certainly does sound like you're being exploited and I'd probably be looking around for something else too. Are you willing to move, or are you pretty committed to staying in St. Louis?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    Based on your salary, I assumed that you were working on the municipal side. It certainly does sound like you're being exploited and I'd probably be looking around for something else too. Are you willing to move, or are you pretty committed to staying in St. Louis?
    Yeah, I believe Jaxspra's former employer has a couple of openings . . . She wasn't far from St. Louis.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  11. #11
    Cyburbian
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    Do you have no really have no insurance or does your firm have an HSA (health savings account)? Sounds to me like you are also confusing salary with take home pay (I thought the earlier thread asked for advice on the former).

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    I am confused: does your employer offer health insurance? Or did you choose not to participate?

    Why take a job that does not offer it?

    Sorry, hindsight speaking!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I'm probably going to stay in St. Louis for a year or two but I would like to move somewhere else for awhile. It's just gotten so uncomfortable lately and I don't live extravagantly at all. Unless having a cell phone and DSL are considered extravagances today? Even if they are, with a Master's (and I know a lot of working planners do not give a lot of credit to formal education), I don't feel like I should be struggling like this.

    Quote Originally posted by MacheteJames View post
    Based on your salary, I assumed that you were working on the municipal side. It certainly does sound like you're being exploited and I'd probably be looking around for something else too. Are you willing to move, or are you pretty committed to staying in St. Louis?

  14. #14
    Cyburbian
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    They mentioned that they would discuss health insurance when I agreed to join. It was the beginning of this month that I finally couldn't wait and brought it up. I don't think they were going to bring it up unless I had.

    Yes, in hindsight, I should have just stayed at my internship level and continued to look around because when I did the numbers in my head, I didn't make much more than what I was getting as an intern.

    Quote Originally posted by gkmo62u View post
    I am confused: does your employer offer health insurance? Or did you choose not to participate?

    Why take a job that does not offer it?

    Sorry, hindsight speaking!

  15. #15
    Cyburbian
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    I don't see where I'm confusing salary with take home pay. At the end of the day, I will not be able to afford health insurance AND student loans. I mean, why did I go to school?

    With what I'm getting paid now, I couldn't afford to contribute to an HSA and pay for a major medical insurance plan AND pay student loans. I keep wondering if I'm being unreasonable. But wherever I turn all my colleagues are just shaking their heads and people on this forum have said that the low 30's is near-exploitative.

    They're a brand new firm and I guess I over-romanticized the idea of being on something at the ground floor when I should have been crunching numbers.


    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    Do you have no really have no insurance or does your firm have an HSA (health savings account)? Sounds to me like you are also confusing salary with take home pay (I thought the earlier thread asked for advice on the former).

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jdstl1977 View post
    I don't see where I'm confusing salary with take home pay. At the end of the day, I will not be able to afford health insurance AND student loans. I mean, why did I go to school?

    With what I'm getting paid now, I couldn't afford to contribute to an HSA and pay for a major medical insurance plan AND pay student loans. I keep wondering if I'm being unreasonable. But wherever I turn all my colleagues are just shaking their heads and people on this forum have said that the low 30's is near-exploitative.

    They're a brand new firm and I guess I over-romanticized the idea of being on something at the ground floor when I should have been crunching numbers.
    BRAND...NEW...FIRM...I think that explains alot of why they are paying you less. As someone who moonlights with a start-up consulting firm and is planning on starting my own firm one day, do you have ANY idea how much hard work and sweat go into starting a firm? We're usually talking months if not years of marketing trying to get those first contracts, THEN having enough work to put food on the table, THEN trying to turn a profit, THEN having so much work that you can't do it all yourself, THEN finding the right part time people (which is where I come in), THEN having so much work that you need full time help (which is where YOU come in). They need to keep overhead lower to increase their profit margins.

    Salary is your pre-tax income. Take-home pay is your net income after you have taken out taxes, social security as well as perks (401k, health insurance, term life insurance, etc.). I thought your original post a few weeks/months ago was asking what is a good salary is for a planner in your position. Our suggestions were based on pre-tax dollars, not on what you take home each week.

    Did you expect to take home ALL of the money you earned? 25,000 in take home pay is not that unreasonable for an entry-level planner (I will agree its far from glamorous but I did it with just a bachelors in planning AND I managed to sock away 500-600 a month in savings plus contribute my limit to a 401k: no credit card debt, pay about a hundred in month for student loans, have a car but live a mile from work, don't have cable but I am usually outdoors most of the time or at the gym, and I cook all of my meals from scratch). I have been doing this now for 2 years but I think it's time for me to earn a new job to get more experience in other areas of planning and of course, make more money

    I don't know your whole story, but alot of freshly minted planners think that they are going to make a mountain of cash in their consulting job (some make more than others but it isn't alot of money). Yes, a masters degree in planning will open more doors to you than a bachelors in planning would, but that doesn't necessarily mean more money right up front. How much financial planning did you do when you enrolled in grad school? We are not lawyers: you can't just put in 3 years and come out with a six figure salary to clean away that debt, it takes a long time to pay off (unless you are wise and find ways not to take loans out in the first place).

    Sounds to me like your firm has been too busy to consider your health insurance, doesn't mean that they don't offer it. Sorry for sounding harsh in this respone, but I have been where you are and just giving my honest response (I seldom sugarcoat realities).

    Hope this helps-

  17. #17
    I was offered an entry level planner position. 30K a year (salary, not take home), contractual, meaning no paid leave, no benefits, etc. I turned it down, and accepted another position. Now I'm making 30K a year (again, salary, not take home), but with some paid leave and benefits.

    Does it suck? Yessir, royally, especially when you consider that I'd be making upwards of 45K, full benefits, had I not left my old line of work. Do I kick myself in the ass every now and then? You bet. But do I realize we all have to start somewhere? Yeah.

    I wouldn't suggest staying as an intern anywhere, when a better opportunity presents itself. Frankly, the word "internship" on a resume, at least in my case, seems to mean very little. I did a lot of work for a long time in some internships, and was very much an integral part of our operations, functioning on the same level as the full-time regular staff. But because it's an internship, there's a perception otherwise.

    If I wanted to stay in GIS forever (which I do not), I'd be set after staying in the full-time job for one or two years. All these job announcements saying, "one year experience required," "two years experience needed," etc. Once you get some time in, and it's a full-time, paid position (even entry level), you will become a more attractive candidate. That's not to say I wouldn't jump right now if the perfect opportunity came along, but in the mean time, I've got plenty of work to do, and a paycheck that keeps coming in. That's a lot better than being unemployed and getting rejected at every turn.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    BRAND...NEW...FIRM...I think that explains alot of why they are paying you less. As someone who moonlights with a start-up consulting firm and is planning on starting my own firm one day, do you have ANY idea how much hard work and sweat go into starting a firm? We're usually talking months if not years of marketing trying to get those first contracts, THEN having enough work to put food on the table, THEN trying to turn a profit, THEN having so much work that you can't do it all yourself, THEN finding the right part time people (which is where I come in), THEN having so much work that you need full time help (which is where YOU come in). They need to keep overhead lower to increase their profit margins.

    Salary is your pre-tax income. Take-home pay is your net income after you have taken out taxes, social security as well as perks (401k, health insurance, term life insurance, etc.). I thought your original post a few weeks/months ago was asking what is a good salary is for a planner in your position. Our suggestions were based on pre-tax dollars, not on what you take home each week.

    Did you expect to take home ALL of the money you earned? 25,000 in take home pay is not that unreasonable for an entry-level planner (I will agree its far from glamorous but I did it with just a bachelors in planning AND I managed to sock away 500-600 a month in savings plus contribute my limit to a 401k: no credit card debt, pay about a hundred in month for student loans, have a car but live a mile from work, don't have cable but I am usually outdoors most of the time or at the gym, and I cook all of my meals from scratch). I have been doing this now for 2 years but I think it's time for me to earn a new job to get more experience in other areas of planning and of course, make more money

    I don't know your whole story, but alot of freshly minted planners think that they are going to make a mountain of cash in their consulting job (some make more than others but it isn't alot of money). Yes, a masters degree in planning will open more doors to you than a bachelors in planning would, but that doesn't necessarily mean more money right up front. How much financial planning did you do when you enrolled in grad school? We are not lawyers: you can't just put in 3 years and come out with a six figure salary to clean away that debt, it takes a long time to pay off (unless you are wise and find ways not to take loans out in the first place).

    Sounds to me like your firm has been too busy to consider your health insurance, doesn't mean that they don't offer it. Sorry for sounding harsh in this respone, but I have been where you are and just giving my honest response (I seldom sugarcoat realities).

    Hope this helps-
    I appreciate your willingness to contribute something to this thread but I already know everything you're saying. I know the difference between salary and take home pay. I understand the difficulties of starting your own business. And, take no offense, but yes you're kind of blunt and the rather elementary information you offered is nearly insulting to my intelligence. I didn't expect to make six figures out of grad school but at the same time, I did not expect to still be destitute either. I would have totally been fine making what I do now with just a bachelor's.

    But I am effectively the ONLY person working on a comprehensive plan, as in no one is taking a section of any part of the plan. I do all the GIS work AND I've created all their collateral: mailers, newsletters, etc.

    Yesterday, I was told to find my own health insurance and if I could do some research to find a way to get us in a group. Mind you, I don't own any part of this company and one boss has bought a new lakeside house gone to Mexico and taken a weekend jaunt to Vegas and the other has gone on two week long vacations since I've been here.

    But I've already made inroads to higher paying positions at the City and a local law firm.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian
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    First of all...calm down, it's Friday As I said before, I didn't know your whole story or your experience. People take advice differently: to some, my advice is pure fluff and to other people it has opened doors or helped them look at something from a different perspective (I think the same can be said for any other advice offered by anyone). My intention was not to insult your intelligence, it was merely to help you.

    Out of curiosity what type of job research did you do before applying to graduate school? Did you meet with any professionals in the public, private, or non-for-profit sectors to learn about salaries, job responsibilities, advancement? Alot of my classmates didn't do this until after they graduated when they were looking for jobs and were very surpised they were working at the bottom of the food chain.

    It sounds to me like they have given you a lot of responsibilties so far (leading the comprehensive plan, finding a group health plan, etc.). This can either mean they really trust you with responsibility or they really ARE exploiting you (and only you can determine that). As you probably know, a group medical plan is paid by the employer, a much smaller amount is deducted from the employees checks.

    What's the problem with your bosses taking a vacation? They're human, too

  20. #20
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    First of all, nrschmid, you often come across as condescending, so don't be so shocked when people respond to you as jdstl did...

    For jdstl:

    I'm not sure why you're only bringing home 63% of your check, even single with no kids should be better than that... are they taking out retirement or something? It just seems a little off.

    Also, without such a basic benefit such as health insurance, I'd definately look (quietly) to move on. I don't care if it's a BRAND... NEW... FIRM... or not, if they want happy and productive employees, they need to give the basic benefits. It seems to me the principles of the company are making decent bank on your back.

    That's just my opinion from what you've written, and your mileage may vary! Best of luck in hunting... Having worked in MO, I can tell you the Missouri Municipal League is an excellent source for jobs.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
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  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    First of all, nrschmid, you often come across as condescending, so don't be so shocked when people respond to you as jdstl did...
    Well I agree with you on that, that's always been one of my biggest faults and I'll have to work at that.. If anyone else feels the same way please let me know.
    Last edited by Gedunker; 10 Aug 2007 at 3:02 PM. Reason: fixed quote tags

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    It comes closer to 78% that I take home. At the end of the day, I cannot afford to work here and I don't live extravagantly. Everyone here says I'm not getting paid enough and 'almost' everyone on here said so as well. The 'find your own health insurance and see if you can get us on a program too' suggestion yesterday was the final straw.

    I don't own this company. I'm just an employee. I shouldn't have to find my own health insurance AND try and do research to save the company money too.

    So, I've started to look for more opportunities just so I can survive. I've already done a lot of sacrificing while in school. I'll be damned if I'm gonna be destitute with a Master's degree even if I am a newly minted planner. Not when Planner II's get ~$60,00 in CA.

    Thanks, and I'll check out the Missouri Municipal League.


    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    First of all, nrschmid, you often come across as condescending, so don't be so shocked when people respond to you as jdstl did...

    For jdstl:

    I'm not sure why you're only bringing home 63% of your check, even single with no kids should be better than that... are they taking out retirement or something? It just seems a little off.

    Also, without such a basic benefit such as health insurance, I'd definately look (quietly) to move on. I don't care if it's a BRAND... NEW... FIRM... or not, if they want happy and productive employees, they need to give the basic benefits. It seems to me the principles of the company are making decent bank on your back.

    That's just my opinion from what you've written, and your mileage may vary! Best of luck in hunting... Having worked in MO, I can tell you the Missouri Municipal League is an excellent source for jobs.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally posted by Mastiff View post
    I'm not sure why you're only bringing home 63% of your check, even single with no kids should be better than that... are they taking out retirement or something? It just seems a little off.
    For what it's worth, I only take home about 2/3 of my pay as well. *shrugs*

    Quote Originally posted by jdstl1977
    I don't own this company. I'm just an employee. I shouldn't have to find my own health insurance AND try and do research to save the company money too.

    So, I've started to look for more opportunities just so I can survive. I've already done a lot of sacrificing while in school. I'll be damned if I'm gonna be destitute with a Master's degree even if I am a newly minted planner. Not when Planner II's get ~$60,00 in CA
    Two things: One, if I understand correctly, they want you to look at group rates, yes? Which indicates to me that the company is interested in possibly providing health benefits to employees. This means they actually spend more money to subsidize your health insurance, and you spend less. Tis a good thing.

    Second, don't forget about cost of living. There are places where my current salary would let me live like a king, and places where double my current pay would leave me begging for change on the street corners. California is typically a high cost of living area.

  24. #24
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SuperPenguin View post
    For what it's worth, I only take home about 2/3 of my pay as well. *shrugs*

    Second, don't forget about cost of living. There are places where my current salary would let me live like a king, and places where double my current pay would leave me begging for change on the street corners. California is typically a high cost of living area.
    Sorry about your take home SP...

    I agree about the CoL aspect. I've looked at jobs in NoCal that paid over $100,000 and couldn't afford to buy a home for my family within forty miles.

    A general rule of thumb is that your mortgage should be about a quarter of your take home pay, maybe even 30% if you find the right deal. If you go on realtor.com for the area and nearby areas where you are applying, select the number of bedrooms and baths you must have, you can get a home price. If the mortgage, including the taxes, would be more than 30% of the take home, the job isn't priced right for you.

    It might be for someone... but not you. There are also some great cost of living sites out there on the web that can make a decision easier.

    From Sperling's Best Places:

    To maintain the same standard of living, your salary of $40,000 in St. Louis, Missouri should increase to $93,636 in San Francisco, California
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    C'mon and get me you twist of fate
    I'm standing right here Mr. Destiny
    If you want to talk well then I'll relate
    If you don't so what cause you don't scare me

  25. #25
    Cyburbian
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    Well, at the end of the day, if I can find a better-paying opportunity that is good for my career strategically and is closely aligned with my values and working style, then I'm going to take it. I've stopped beating myself up thinking about whether or not I'm being reasonable.

    Quote Originally posted by nrschmid View post
    First of all...calm down, it's Friday As I said before, I didn't know your whole story or your experience. People take advice differently: to some, my advice is pure fluff and to other people it has opened doors or helped them look at something from a different perspective (I think the same can be said for any other advice offered by anyone). My intention was not to insult your intelligence, it was merely to help you.

    Out of curiosity what type of job research did you do before applying to graduate school? Did you meet with any professionals in the public, private, or non-for-profit sectors to learn about salaries, job responsibilities, advancement? Alot of my classmates didn't do this until after they graduated when they were looking for jobs and were very surpised they were working at the bottom of the food chain.

    It sounds to me like they have given you a lot of responsibilties so far (leading the comprehensive plan, finding a group health plan, etc.). This can either mean they really trust you with responsibility or they really ARE exploiting you (and only you can determine that). As you probably know, a group medical plan is paid by the employer, a much smaller amount is deducted from the employees checks.

    What's the problem with your bosses taking a vacation? They're human, too

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