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Negotiating Better Salary And Benefits
Money Management
With a pile of cash on her desk, Farmington Fire Chief Conni Bailey was busy counting all weekend long, with more than $25,700 donated over a four-day period. The money goes to the Firefighters Burn Institute. Marg Jackson/The Times


California Society Of CPAs

Whether you are searching for a new job or getting ready for a performance review, you’re probably thinking about the best ways to improve your salary and benefits package. The California Society of CPAs ( offers these tips to help you negotiate for the compensation you’re seeking.


Research the Market

How much should you ask for? It’s hard to answer that question without knowing what people with similar experience in comparable jobs are already receiving. Use online salary tools or other resources to determine the range of pay and benefits for jobs like yours that are in the same region, industry and size of company.


Know Your Strengths

Come to any meeting prepared to talk about the value you bring to the job. At the top of your list should be detailed information about an important impact that you’ve made at your current company. Did you save money for the organization or your department? Help introduce a successful new product or service? Bring in a major project on time and under budget? Successfully launch a critical new initiative? Impose order on a disorganized department?

Spend some time thinking about the contributions you’ve made in your area of expertise and be prepared to talk about the difference they’ve made for the organization. In addition, if you have special training or experience that you use on the job or that you could be putting to work, mention that as well.


Remember Benefits

First step when evaluating any new job offer, determine whether the benefits are as good as those in your current position. If they are not, the cost of paying for the perks you lose could offset any pay raise you might receive in a new job.

If your old company matched your contributions to a retirement account or helped you pay student loans, that money will now have to come out of your own pocket. In addition, there are often limits on how much an employer can offer for a particular job, so be sure to include benefits in your negotiation.

Along with health care coverage, retirement benefits and other types of insurance, would it help you to have a flexible schedule because of personal obligations? Would you like the employer to pay relocation expenses? Is more paid time off important to you? Be sure to discuss these requests in your interview.

More insight on how to evaluate a job offer and the questions you should be asking when reviewing benefits is available on the American Institute of CPAs’ 360 degrees of financial literacy website (


How Much and How Often?

In negotiations with a new employer, consider asking for a salary review after six months, instead of one year. That way you’ll have a chance to demonstrate your abilities and start earning more a little sooner.

If possible, also find out the average percentage of the company’s pay increases. If they are lower than those at your current organization, you could end up earning less over time than you would if you had stayed where you were.


Look Ahead

What are your short and long-term compensation goals? It’s fun to dream about how much you could make, but your chances of achieving your dreams are improved if you consider what steps will get you there. If further education is the answer, consider what types of training you need – and find out if your employer will help pay for it.

If you require on-the-job experience to move up, plot a course to get the skills you need. While getting the best pay right now is important, it’s always a good idea to look ahead so that your career and financial plans stay on course.


Turn to Your CPA

Whatever your financial concerns, your local CPA can help. Visit to find one near you.


The Money Management columns are a joint effort of the AICPA and the California Society of CPAs as part of the profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program. To listen to podcasts with more financial tips, go to