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How should one who has held multiple internships with a large company of 50k+ employees negotiate salary on eventual full-time job offers (having documented excellent performance via internal systems)?

It seems likely the process will be a generic HR offer which is given to all graduates of similar education levels (MS degree) with a similar initial salary, etc, and probably a phone call of the "hey, just calling to say we are sending you an email offer" or something relatively impersonal.

Additionally, I have a unique skill set resulting from my work experiences (software development as well as engineering) which means accepting a position in for example engineering could very well be a large pay decrease from what a software development position would be. From my past experiences, I understand how important this skill set is to this particular company, as well as other similar companies.

I have several specific questions related to this sort of situation:

  1. Is salary for an internship -> fulltime offer with larger companies a process which is normally "automated" from a company perspective in that there is a "for this education and degree, here's the offer" format? IE a formulaic offer process instead of a customized, individual offer for each intern->fulltime position. Or should I treat it the same as if I had recently interviewed?
  2. Can I consider my 2-3 years of internship and graduate research as work experience for a request for higher salary - even though I will technically be graduating?
  3. Is discussing previous (positive) performance reviews an acceptable part of a fulltime offer negotiation?
  4. Is something like, "I would like to work in this position, however, other jobs I am qualified for make $XX,XXX and this offer is only for $YY,YYY, is it possible we can meet in the middle?" acceptable?
  5. Finally, if an offer details are communicated primarily in email format, should I attempt negotiations over email or via phone?

closed as too localized by jmort253, bethlakshmi, jcmeloni Oct 3 '12 at 13:51

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    You have the makings of 5 great questions. But together they make a rather poor very localized question. I suggest you focus on one of those questions here. Then ask each of the others seperately. This way you can get a feel for the answers to each of them and apply them in a way that fits your situation but the content is more valuable to other visitors to the site. There are a few negotiation questions already on the site you may want to review as well. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 16 '12 at 17:15
  • OK, I will do that when I am home for the evening. I've read through the negotiation questions but most of them seem to apply to the "interview --> offer" process, rather than what I am describing. – enderland Aug 16 '12 at 17:59
  • Some of that (if not all) should apply here too. But like I said I think you have the basis for 5 great questions. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 16 '12 at 18:30
  • Is there a way to close this myself? I intend to post each as a unique question and would like to close this (after editing to include links to the new questions, I guess). – enderland Aug 20 '12 at 1:25
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All job offers should be unique to the individual, carefully considered, and properly competitive. You should be evaluated on your unique skills and experience and education regardless of how large the company is. I can't imagine any company automatically makes offers to its interns--internship is partly like an extended interview, and sometimes interns are ok for the internship but not someone you'd want to hire full time.

In general, you are always OK to talk about your positives and ask for a specific salary, but you also want to do it respectfully and tactfully and avoid some common pitfalls, below.

For your specific questions.

  1. Internship to full-time is doubtfully automated. It may be an easy process and often will not include an interview, but there will be some decisions made at some point about whether or not to offer you a job and what salary to offer. An offer is just that, you can always turn it down, counter, or accept.

  2. Yes and no, you can consider your internships and experience in deciding what you think you are worth, and you can bring these up to bolster your position, but you may value them more than your employer. So don't discount them completely, internships are extremely valuable, but don't consider them entirely equal to full-time employment.

  3. Discussing previous positive reviews is ok but in this situation you're hopefully talking to someone who is already intimately familiar with your work, experience, and abilities. Generally I would recommend skipping the self-promotion and go right to how much you like it there, that you'd like to stay, that you're a great fit, will benefit the company a lot, and need a competitive salary of x.

  4. If you think you're qualified for a specific salary, ask for that salary. It's odd to say "I think I'm qualified for X so will you pay me Y?" when Y is lower than X. If you're qualified for a high salary, ask for it. They may say no, they may withdraw the offer entirely, they may say yes, or they may counter with something in between. Be prepared for all possibilities, remember you can take time (a few days) to think about a decision, and neither side is obligated toward the other beyond already committed to contracts or agreements.

  5. If you already work there, I would try to do things in person. If not possible, and the employer makes an offer by e-mail, then try to call and discuss it.

A few other tips:

  1. Don't focus on salary. Your question is a lot about salary but think long term. What you want in your first position out of school is a good career building job. Something that will allow you to learn a lot and set you up for a good career long term. You're much better off working for a lower salary in a job where you'll learn a lot and make connections which will more likely lead to higher salaries down the road.

  2. Be positive but don't boast. You can talk about your good traits and experience and accomplishments, but you also want to not boast unnecessarily. Especially since you're talking about your current employer, you likely can skip some self-promotion.

  3. Don't hold other offers up. If you have other offers, never say "I interviewed elsewhere and they offered me X, I need you to beat that." This may be acceptable in a situation where you're applying for multiple jobs, but if you're talking about your current employer, this is very bad practice. Even when applying for new jobs, it still looks bad. Simply saying, "i believe I'm worth X" or "I don't think your offer is fully competitive" is better.

  4. Unrelated skillsets don't help. If you have some highly valuable skill that your prospective/current employer doesn't value, then it's a high factor in salary negotiations. It is a factor to the extent that you can get another job at a higher salary due to that skill, but that doesn't necessarily mean the company that doesn't need the skill will match. For example, I'm in the Washington, DC area and we see a lot of job applicants with a security clearance. Security clearances are very expensive to obtain and can qualify people for government and consulting jobs that others would not be qualified for, which generally pay a good premium. However, we don't do any consulting, much less government consulting. Therefore we don't value security clearance and actually sometimes consider it a negative--we know the employee can get a higher salary elsewhere due to the clearance we don't care about. Generally we only hire people with security clearance if they very clearly indicate they don't want to work for/with the government anymore (which is common).

  • Thank you. This is quite valuable feedback. I've edited my question to be more clear as I may have misused "automated" - I mean more that there is a reasonably formulaic offer for intern->fulltime hires with X for a degree and Y for education. – enderland Aug 16 '12 at 12:48
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    Unfortunetly for large companies I suspect that the new grad rate will be fixed and opertunities for negociation will be limited at best. – Neuro Oct 9 '12 at 15:11
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What a great question - I wish I had this site when I was negotiating my own internship->full time transition, or that I could have pointed my old beloved interns to it as we did the same thing! I've been on both sides of this one.

First - most smart companies regard good interns as one of their best recruitment streams. You can never really get enough of them - it takes time and commitment to mentor an intern and not every intern works out to be a good candidate for full time employment, but when you are a hiring manager you know so much more about the qualities of a former intern that you can feel many times more certain about hiring them. Beyond internal business knowledge - the knowing what you're getting quality is really the best part of the process.

And that's true for both sides - as an intern, you know what you are in for, too.

In general, a job application and offer process is (and should be!) formulaic to some extent. Likely, it will appear more formulaic than it actually is. In a big company there is an outlined process to the application/interview/offer process that is created by HR and legal to be sure that candidates are treated fairly and compliance with company policies - it should always be on the merits of the candidate and nothing sneaky. So being asked to submit an application, go through a round of interviews, and being handed an offer by someone in HR who you may never have met before - may all be typical.

What isn't usually obvious is that for a known-to-be-excellent Intern, the hiring manager and the former managers of that intern have a lot more to say on the back end. Somewhere in the back of any bureaucracy are some real people trying to make honest decisions. Likely some of these are managers who know you and who are basing their decisions on your hard work. They may, or may not, be the ones asking you to apply, or talking you through the process - it depends on company rules.

Even for an unknown guy of the street a person with project and budget control eventually has to make that salary decision - HR may advise, but someone with business knowledge is usually the final yes/no guy.

Specific answers:

s salary for an internship -> fulltime offer with larger companies a process which is normally "automated" from a company perspective in that there is a "for this education and degree, here's the offer" format? IE a formulaic offer process instead of a customized, individual offer for each intern->fulltime position. Or should I treat it the same as if I had recently interviewed?

Some formalization will happen, but you can expect some degree of bias based on previous experience with your skills. For certain types of jobs (usually government) they may be handicapped by rules and regulations - such as X degree starts and entry level job at Y value. In other cases, there are likely limitations of "we are not paying this guy dramatically more than the other 3 guys who do the same job already". And always - "we will not pay this guy more to do this job if we can hire another guy to do the same job for radically cheaper".

2.Can I consider my 2-3 years of internship and graduate research as work experience for a request for higher salary - even though I will technically be graduating?

Yes. Usually graduate work and internship experience count as work experience. They may or may not qualify you for a higher rank, but they do factor in.

Also - check with your company - you may count these years in seniority calculations - factoring into your earned vacation time and other perks.

3.Is discussing previous (positive) performance reviews an acceptable part of a fulltime offer negotiation?

This is usually a part of an interview process. Discussing specifics of work as part of salary negotiation is (in general) a bit too nitty gritty.

4.Is something like, "I would like to work in this position, however, other jobs I am qualified for make $XX,XXX and this offer is only for $YY,YYY, is it possible we can meet in the middle?" acceptable?

Know your value - have another job offer in hand if you want to have this conversation. I wouldn't offer a compromise - I'd start with what you know you can make elsewhere and see where they go with it. Sometimes less is more.

Rarely have I seen a company WITHDRAW an offer because the candidate counter offered. Several times I've seen the answer be "nope, take it or leave it". So realistic worst case is no change.

Keep in mind - they know you, this cuts both ways. They know what you can do... and what you can't... you may be terrific, but you can't clone yourself, so you aren't going to pull off double the going salary.

5.Finally, if an offer details are communicated primarily in email format, should I attempt negotiations over email or via phone?

Depends. I'd follow the lead of your communication channel.

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