What is the best answer when responding to salary requirements for a job?

Monday, August 18th, 2008 - Employment, Job Interview, job offers, recruitment, salary


Barbara asks: This is really puzzling to me as I know what I am worth, I know my work ethic and I know what I need to survive. It is a bit uncomfortable when applying for a position and they request salary requirement. I always put a large enough range stating I am willing to discuss the salary as it is negotiable yet, nothing happens. When asked during the interview what my present salary is, I don’t like to say as I am asking more, $5-$10K more than I am making. I took close to $5K less at the job I am at now because I needed a job. Any suggestions on what to do?

In answer:
I just talked a very good friend through this one, so happy to help!

First step – set a minimum on a budget you know you can live off of. Don’t apply for jobs where the package is less than that.

Secondly, you will be asked your currently salary at some point – so be honest with the recruiter, and at the point where the employer is considering a job offer ONLY IF THEY ASK! To no one else and no sooner. If your requirements are greater than your current salary, say why you are moving and why your requirements are greater.

Each job is worth X to each employer/market, and that salary range and some package details should be included in the advert – if it is not, ask the question before any form of formalised interview. Where you get a bland answer, don’t go any further with the application – to make sure it meets your minimum. Also, undertake some research into similar jobs with different employers – get a feel for what the market price is, and hence know that:

(a) what your minimum is achievable
(b) what the employer is offering is reasonable – ie you are not under paid

In the interview, when asked the question, now simply say: “Well, it is above the minimum I require for my life style, and the stated range seems reasonable but low when compared to the market. I am looking for a whole package, and that from what has been stated to me seems that we can reach an agreement.” And then stop! If they ask what the numbers are, just repeat their own advert or as stated in telephone call numbers back to them, and again says “…and that from what has been stated to me seems that we can reach an agreement.” If they press again, say “Look, I think we can reach an agreement if the level is as stated, but I would have to review the whole offer that includes salary as part of a package in a written contract form before I could make a final decision.”

This way you don’t state a number, but are saying that you like them, and if they like you and make you an offer in their stated range, you would highly consider it. In others words, for the sake of saying a number you don’t exclude yourself from an offer letter, and show willing but not soft.

This strategy allows for the inevitable “job description creep” in interview of “Oh, we didn’t realise you had that skill, so may be we could use that/deploy it” which means you end up doing a bigger job for less pay. It could also mean you play one part of the package later against another – OK, not as much base but better OTE; a better car; more healthcare, etc.

Only you know what’s the right salary and package for you, but there are good ways around getting job offers and possibly employed without falling into the pit of stating a number.

Good Luck!
………………………………………
Ian,

You are an angel! I thank you so much for going through all you did to help me secure a good response. Please extend my sincere thanks to your friend, I appreciate all your help.

Regards,

Barbara

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