What do you say when the interviewer asks: “What are your salary expectations?” Some candidates look like a deer in the headlights, while others stumble or mumble words they don’t remember later. The smart candidate has a strategy and an answer at the ready.
Most all positions have a salary range: A minimum and a maximum. Companies try to hire new employees near the mid-point, or lower. Why? Because they want to provide room for the employee to grow financially as the range also continues to grow each year. So, what that means is there is always some room to negotiate a starting salary. You probably have a 10% opportunity range above an offer, but not always. Here are some strategies to help you:
1. If you’re working with an external recruiter, they need to know your current salary to make sure you are in the sweet spot of the open position. However, they get paid as a percent of your total compensation, so it’s in their best interest to have your offer at the highest dollar value possible. Ask the recruiter for the salary range of the position.
2. Do your research. Similar positions in similar industries and companies are available. Even though you aren’t able to find a specific salary number, you’ll come close enough to find how common or unique the position. Use payscale.com or glassdoor.com
3. Once you have a benchmark range you will have a much better idea of how to approach the question of compensation. The greater the supply/demand is in your favor, the better.
4. The longer you delay the compensation question, the better off you are. Why? If you wait until you are in the third round of interviews that means they are very interested and want to hire you. This gives you greater leverage.
5. When filling out an application form, when asked for salary information, write “Market rate” or put down a range of salary between $X and $Y that is within your researched data.
6. During an early interview, say, ““I would prefer to discuss salary once I understand more about the job itself, the expectations, benefits, incentives, opportunities for the future and how I can contribute to the team”. That will be seen as a good business position.
7. Another strategy, if it works, is to ask, “Based on my qualifications and experience, where do you see me fitting within your range?” 50th percentile? 25th? Sometimes they’ll tell you.
8. If you’re negotiating, you’ll be better positioned with the hiring manager who can make a decision than with the human resources person who may not understand your potential value to the manager.
9. When In a final negotiation, never make statements or demands, only questions, like:
“Is it possible to have a performance and salary review within the first 6 months?”
“Will you provide for a hiring bonus since your initial salary seems low to the market?”
“Would you consider a guaranteed salary increase based on specific objectives?”
“Can you give a half-grade promotion after the first year?” (to supervisor or manager?)
“The initial salary seems low for the position. Can it be increased by XX% to $YY?”
My experience is if a company wants you, and you want the job, negotiations are relatively easy. Try the compromise method: Meet halfway.
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