ICMA dedicates this blog post to veterans and transitioning military members. It also provides valuable tips and best practices for anyone trying to land a job in local government. These tips come from the new ICMA handbook, Veterans Guide to Finding a Job in Local Government.
Evaluating Your Compensation Package and Job Offer
Lisa Ward, Vice President, The Mercer Group
Typically, a job announcement has a salary range posted, and there also will be a good indication of the benefits offered by the organization in the announcement. The organization should be setting compensation for the role based on the duties that are involved in the job, as well as the qualifications needed to do the work. They might also consider factors like market competitiveness, pay for performance, and other things that would give them the most value for their compensation dollar.
If a position has a salary range listed on the announcement that does not meet your compensation expectations, it is best to have a conversation with the executive recruiter prior to going forward, interviewing, and competing for the position. If the salary range is not listed, it is perfectly fine to ask the salary range and benefits for a particular position. Once you determine that the salary range advertised meets your expectations, you should interview and compete for the position like you are the best candidate for the job and sell yourself and your skills!
Once you have been offered the position, the offer is typically contingent upon final background checks, credit checks, and negotiations of the salary, benefits, and leave package. During this time you should negotiate the salary, additional benefits, and leave balances with your prospective employer. If the position is an executive-level position, you may want to ask for an employment agreement that clearly documents salary, benefits, and leave, as well as a fair severance package.
In most cases, the organization will make you a salary offer when it calls to offer you the position. If the salary offered is lower than you were anticipating, but in the range advertised, you can justify requesting additional salary dollars based on specifics that you will want to outline. You will want to provide justification by sharing information about your experience, education, or a specific skill that you will bring to the organization. You might also want to consider requesting such ancillary benefits as:
- Monthly vehicle allowance.
- Additional vacation leave hours.
- Additional % into the 401a or 457b retirement plan.
- Professional education and membership expenses to be paid by the organization, in lieu of additional salary.
Some organizations are able to offer ancillary benefits that are not additional salary but will make your compensation package more attractive. These benefits should be included in the employment agreement to ensure a full understanding between all parties.