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Ever been super excited about a new job, but disappointed by the salary — and ended up taking it anyway because, well, bills?
Don't feel bad; you're in the same boat as a lot of Americans, according to data released by the New York Federal Reserve. The New York Fed found that the average "reservation wage" — or the lowest amount of money job seekers would be willing to accept for a new position — dropped in July to its lowest levels since March 2015, now sitting at $57,960.
I know what you're thinking: earning almost $58,000 doesn't sound like a "compromise salary." But consider that plumbers and executive assistants, for instance, both jobs that don't require a four-year degree, make median salaries above $50,000. Meanwhile, jobs that typically require a college degree like electrical engineer or marketing manager make a median salary of $76,000 and $85,000, respectively. Looking at these figures makes you wonder — is it possible that there are job seekers out there who've had to take a pay cut of $20K or more just to get back into the workforce?
The Fed report also dropped a hint that the labor market isn't as rosy as recent jobs reports make it out to be: The mean job offer last month was $49,250 — two years ago, it was $62,369. The Fed also found that the biggest dips in reservation wage were among older workers and those who made more than $60,000.
If you get a less-than-stellar job offer though, don't despair. There are steps you can take to try to negotiate for a higher figure or squeeze more from your potential employer. Here are a few questions to ask your hiring manager.
Is there a signing bonus is on the table? Chances are good a human resources rep is holding onto a signing bonus as a bargaining chip, so it doesn't hurt to ask if one is available — especially if you aren't thrilled with your salary offer.
When will my performance review be? Knowing that your next review is in six months versus a year can give you an idea of how soon you may be able to bump up your pay. If the date is further away than you'd like, you could use that as an excuse to ask for a small salary bump.
What are the big money-saving employee perks? Maybe you can't get your base bumped up. But if your new company helps subsidize your commute, your gym membership or offers better health benefits than your current position, you could be saving in the long run. If they don't, you could use that as a reason for slightly more pay. After all, a commute that costs $20 more a month or insurance that takes $50 more out of your paycheck may not be worth taking a lowball offer.