Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be an intimidating process. With so many things to do, getting a job is almost always at the top of the list. Here are 7 salary negotiation tips to make the transition a little smoother and ensure you get the salary you deserve.
1. Be explicit with your skills.
It's very important to know how to translate the skills you learned in the military to job requirements in the civilian world. For example, three years as a commanding officer translates into three years of experience with leadership and team building, a highly valued skill in corporate America. Just because you acquired your skills in a different way than civilians does not negate the fact that you have them.
2. Don't only negotiate salary.
During the transition to civilian life, you might find that other benefits might be more helpful in the long run. One benefit you could negotiate for is a housing subsidy. If you're relocating to another city, you could ask for extra money to find a place to live while you work at the company. If you don't have a car, you could ask for a paid bus pass or a transportation allowance to pay for gas when you buy a car.
3. Leverage other job offers
Typically, job hunters aren't able to leverage other job offers to negotiate a higher salary, since the timing is often off and job offers won't come at the same time. The only time most people might be able to use this tactic is when you graduate college because you're applying to multiple places and receiving offers around the same time. However, returning from the military is a similar situation. As you transition, you will spend a lot of time applying to multiple positions at the same time, just like a college grad, so you'll probably be able to receive multiple job offers you can use in your negotiations.
4. Don't talk about salary until you get the job offer.
You have the most leverage in negotiations after you get the initial job offer. At that point, they've screened out other candidates, invested time into your interviews, and decided that you were the best choice. At this stage, employers are likely to be flexible in your compensation so that you'll stay and accept the offer.
5. Know the minimum salary you're willing to accept.
Make sure you know your limits and stick to them. You shouldn't accept a job offer paying well below market value from a company that is just trying to get you as cheaply as they can. Accepting an offer lower than your minimum can hurt your chances of reaching your dream salary level in the future.
6. Practice negotiating.
You probably haven't done many salary negotiations while working for the military. Negotiation is a skill that has to be practiced just like everything else, so make sure you brush up on your tactics. This can be done in various ways, including professional coaching, mock negotiating with friends and family, and even negotiating at the local farmer's market.
7. Increase your expectations
Just because you haven't worked in the private sector for a long time doesn't mean that you should be grateful to take any position you're offered. You have valuable skills and experiences to offer, so heighten your expectations and be confident. This confidence will impress your interviewers and set you up to receive a fair salary that you deserve.