Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Many Federal job seekers are unaware that you can negotiate your Federal salary and your annual leave (vacation time). The one and only time you can engage in negotiating is when the HR hiring team first offers you a Federal position. They will always offer you the lowest step of the grade to which you applied. You can negotiate a higher step (up to the step 10) of the grade to which you applied. If they are willing to engage in negotiating with you, many Federal agencies will settle at the step 4 or 5 of the grade. (See opm.gov for pay tables). But they will need you to give them a compelling reason why they should start you at a higher salary. For example, showing the hiring team a competing job offer in the private sector or a series of recent pay slips should do it.
For vacation time, the Federal government will offer you two weeks annually when you start. You can negotiate for up to four weeks of annual leave. Submitting with your negotiation request a short justification as to why you deserve more--more money, more annual leave, or both--can help facilitate the process. If they are unwilling to negotiate or unable to meet your request, they will come back to you and re-extend their original offer to you, so you really don't have anything to lose. Keep in mind that it can take time to go through the negotiation process, so if you have a specific timetable for starting your federal career, the negotiation process may delay you.