Loan benefits

When it comes to salary for a new job, how much negotiation is enough?

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr. tackles your HR questions in a series for USA TODAY. Taylor is President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management, the world’s largest professional human resource society and author of “Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval.”

Questions are submitted by readers and Taylor’s answers below have been edited for length and clarity.

Have a question? Do you have an HR or professional question that you would like me to answer? Submit it here.

Question: I always feel like I’m accepting less than I should when considering job offers. When it comes to salary negotiations, how much back and forth should there be between me and a potential employer? Can I counter multiple times? – Michele

Johnny C. Taylor Jr.: With so many jobs in transition right now, it’s certainly a timely question. The number of back and forths depends on several factors, as each situation is different. Countering a job offer multiple times may not be the best approach. Instead, prepare your salary expectations based on the value of your skills and experience in today’s market. Don’t drag out the salary negotiation for too long. Depending on the situation, twice is the maximum I would recommend.

The timing of the job search is critical when considering negotiations. This is the labor market for employees. In other words, the negotiating leverage is in your favor, especially if you currently have job offers. Rather than preparing to go back and forth with a potential employer, do your homework first. Research common salary ranges for the position and compare them to your education, experience and skills. If the potential employer offers you a lower salary than you expected, share your research and your desired salary range. In addition to what an employer already knows from your resume, provide concrete examples of how you will add value to their organization.

Also, many people focus on base salary and underestimate the value of total compensation. For example, you might be able to take a lower salary than you want because they pay for a lot of your health care or give you a high number of vacation days per year. Carefully review the details of the benefits package to access its true value to you. Consider negotiating or inquiring about other benefits available. This could include college benefits, student loan repayment programs, child care assistance, company-paid time off, or transportation reimbursement.

If the hiring manager or HR is firm and they can’t pay a higher salary or offer better benefits, respect them and don’t back and forth. Ask yourself why you want or need the job. Look beyond base salary and consider all other factors including benefits, work environment, travel, company culture and promotion potential. You may find that all of these other factors outweigh the highest salary.

Hope that helps!

Salary ranges:How to solve discrepancies? Ask HR

Not what I expected:What if my position does not match its description? Ask HR

Q: I work in a non-union warehouse. Our supervisors frequently refused or delayed restroom break requests outside of our scheduled break times. Is it legal? –Lee

Taylor: In short, no. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration establishes regulations for employers in this area. Under current OSHA standards, employers are not allowed to place unreasonable restrictions on restroom use.

However, limiting toilet use to scheduled break times may seem reasonable at first sight; it is recommended that employees be allowed to use the washrooms as needed. Employers under OSHA regulations are required to provide employees with prompt access to restrooms and cannot cause extended delays. Additionally, some employees may have disabilities protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act that may require extended or more frequent breaks as a reasonable accommodation. Physical, physiological and environmental factors can cause an employee to require a restroom break outside of scheduled break times.

If you feel comfortable, speak directly to your supervisor about your concerns. Your supervisor can limit restroom breaks so that warehouse workflow is not disrupted. If so, suggest that they implement a back-up system where an employee signals a temporary replacement whenever they need a break. By implementing a back-up system, employees can take bathroom breaks as needed and workflow is maintained.

If you prefer, direct your concerns to Human Resources and let them deal with them. And remember, if you believe your employer is not meeting OSHA standards, you always have the option of filing a complaint directly with OSHA.