Before you get the job offer, expect a ‘pre-offer’

THE PRE-OFFER: Before you see that job offer in writing, you may have to negotiate — after you get the “pre-offer,” that is.

More companies are asking candidates what salary, benefits, vacation time and other compensation they would be willing to accept before they put an actual offer on the table, says Gary Bergmann, senior consultant for Boston-based outplacement firm ClearRock.

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“There are so many qualified people looking for work that employers can ask this of job seekers,” Bergmann said.

Though there isn’t an official offer to accept or reject, the same strategies and tactics should be put into play during the pre-negotiating stage. ClearRock offers these tips for getting the compensation package you think you deserve:

— Do your homework ahead of time and learn what the fair market value is for the role you have been offered. Check out Web sites such as, and for comparable salary ranges. [Read the full article]

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed deep, unprecedented cuts to public schools, the state government work force and health and welfare safety net programs in a $2.1 billion bid to balance a critically troubled state budget.

The Republican governor, who ruled out any tax boosts before he took office a month ago, sent shock waves across a General Assembly struggling with its own budget plans and through teachers, state workers.

The cuts include rolling back the base state support for local public schools to 2008 levels, using buses longer and not funding sports coaches in education.

Other cuts include five unpaid days off annually for state workers, closing five state parks and slashing a programs that aid the homeless and prevent teen pregnancies.

“All the cuts gave me heartburn. [Read the full article]

If you had money in the stock market over the past decade, you probably agree that it was one bumpy experience. It might lead you to think your retirement account didn’t fare too well. A new study by Fidelity Investments shows consistent contributions and staying in the market paid off for many, but the gain was due more to a commitment to saving than stellar market performance.

Boston-based Fidelity looked at the 401(k) account performance for some 766,000 workers who continued to contribute to their accounts and remained invested from the end of 1999 through the end of 2009.

Their retirement account balances increased an average of 150 percent during the decade, climbing from $65,800 to $163,900.

However, 75 percent of that growth was attributed the account holder adding new money and matching employer contributions. The remaining 25 percent came from market performance, said Michael Doshier, vice president of workplace investing for Fidelity. [Read the full article]

Key lawmakers on Wednesday announced budget targets that would reduce state spending in the upcoming budget and help wipe out an expected shortfall.

The targets would result in a budget that is $260 million less than the current fiscal year spending plan.

“We are crafting a responsible economic plan that includes spending less from the general fund next year than we did this year,” said Rep. Jo Oldson, D-Des Moines, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

The spending plan will set the agenda for seven budget panels that oversee most parts of state government. Under the plan, those panels will divvy up $2.49 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1. That’s down from the $2.75 billion in this year’s budget.

The spending plan doesn’t include some big parts of the budget, most notably aid to local schools, which accounts for nearly half of Iowa’s roughly $5.3 billion general fund budget. [Read the full article]

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