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Know Your Value: Advice from WCSA's Salary Negotiation Panel

21 Feb 2013 1:09 PM | Anonymous member

Thank you to everyone who made it to our salary negotiation panel this week! We’re especially grateful to our panelists for joining us and answering our questions.

If you missed it, read below for some of the advice from our panelists.


Question: When is the best time to negotiate my salary?

Advice: It’s easiest to negotiate your salary right after the initial offer, when you are accepting the position. Once you have been with the office, it’s important to be strategic about when you bring up salary negotiations. An appropriate time is during your annual review. August recess is also a common time. If your office does not have a formal review process in place, don’t be afraid to ask for one. The Congressional Management Foundation provides paperwork to act as a guide.


Question: How should I prepare for a salary negotiation?

Advice: Start now by creating a running list of your accomplishments. This will help demonstrate the value you’ve added to your office. If you’re entry-level, make sure you have enough experience and accomplishments to support your request.

It’s also helpful to have an advocate in your office who knows your goals. If a Chief of Staff or Staff Director is ultimately responsible for your salary negotiation, meet with your Office Manager or Legislative Director to check in on your progress beforehand. Meet regularly to discuss your accomplishments and the direction you hope to move in the office. Then when it’s time for your salary negotiation, your advocate can also speak on your behalf.


Question: How should I begin to negotiate without knowing the outcome of the upcoming sequester?

Advice: It’s always important to be strategic about when you ask for a salary raise. Don’t ask for a raise when you are unlikely to get one. In this case, it’s probably best to postpone a salary discussion until after the sequester. Office managers on the Hill have very little salary flexibility, so consider negotiating other benefits as well. Some ideas include a new title, more flexible recess hours, or half day Fridays. Also keep in mind parking, metro, and student loan benefits.  

Question: If title and salary promotions are not available, how do you figure out how much you're worth?

Advice: If you work on the Hill or in the Administration, you can refer to Legistorm, the White House Annual Report to Congress on White House Staff, and the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions book. If you are looking to transition to the private sector, good resources include: salary.com, payscale.com, and learnvest.com. If you are looking to transition to nonprofit, look to Professionals for Nonprofit, a nonprofit staffing agency that produces a salary survey every year. It’s available at nonprofitstaffing.com

It’s also a good idea to meet with a handful of select people that you trust to ask their advice. Look to people who have made similar transitions or who have first-hand knowledge of what salary ranges are typical in your position.


Do you have a favorite piece of advice that we missed? Post it in the comments section!

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