4 Tips for a Successful Salary Negotiation During a Pandemic

4 Tips for a Successful Salary Negotiation During a Pandemic
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Maybe you’re in the final stages of landing your dream job. Maybe your current employer’s year-end review has opened the window to discuss a year-end raise. Maybe you’re considering a promotion and making sure the pay matches up. Whatever the reason, you’ve found yourself in a position to talk salary.


MOAA’s Transition Center team has provided resources for these negotiations in the past, including webinars (MOAA login required) available to Life and Premium members as part of our online archives. But as with most everything else, COVID-19 may force some changes in approach. Here are four tips to consider as you map out the process:


1. Research with focus. The economic hit from the pandemic has been widespread, but not all industry sectors are feeling the effects equally. For example, demand for employees in various health care sectors is expected to skyrocket over the next few years, and even sectors that have suffered greatly in recent months – hospitality and travel, for instance – may be preparing for a bounce-back as conditions improve.


[RELATED: MOAA's Job Board, in Partnership With Indeed]


What does that mean for your salary talks? First, be sure you’re finding the most recent and relevant salary figures for peer-comparison purposes. The 2019 numbers from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, for instance, may not tell the full story moving forward. Second, find out whether your position is seeing more demand during the pandemic, and if so, adjust your expectations accordingly.


2. Go beyond the bucks. The pandemic has forced many employees to find new ways to juggle their personal and professional priorities. If you’re in a negotiation situation, don’t feel constrained to the dollar figure if there are other compensation avenues that would increase your quality of life:

  • Is your family facing increased health insurance costs or child care needs?
  • Are there work-related expenses (cellphone, computer hardware/software) that could be part of the negotiations?
  • If it’s a new employer, are there ways to fold in personal goals with start dates and/or signing bonuses? Example: You may be able to telecommute while finishing an in-person degree program.


3. Know your value, but consider your timing. Capt. Jim Carman, USN (Ret), MOAA’s vice president for council/chapter and member support, put it this way in a May 2020 piece at MOAA.org: “The reality of the current job market argues for flexibility and compromise.” If you’re landing a new position in a struggling industry, adjust your expectations accordingly. If you’re seeking a promotion or a raise with a current employer, you’re in a good position to know how the company has performed in recent months, and whether your salary requests are in line with the funds available.


4. Get help from MOAA. Premium and Life members can schedule a one-hour consulting session for all manner of employment needs, including assistance at critical points in your career (and salary path). Learn more about how to get started, and consider other resources at MOAA’s Transition and Career Center.


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About the Author

Kevin Lilley
Kevin Lilley

Lilley serves as MOAA's digital content manager. His duties include producing, editing, and managing content for a variety of platforms, with a concentration on The MOAA Newsletter and MOAA.org. Follow him on Twitter: @KRLilley