Learn to Handle Salary Discussions With Confidence


The most challenging part of a job interview for many candidates is the question of salary. Being able to discuss money matters with confidence will help you get the compensation you want and may even improve your job satisfaction. These are some steps to take before you get a job offer, after you get a job offer and in specific circumstances. 

Steps to Take Before You Get a Job Offer

1. Let the employer go first in any salary discussion. You have a better chance of staying in the running and negotiating with an employer who genuinely wants you on their team the longer you can wait to have the discussion.

2. Assess your individual situation. The exact approach you take will depend on the situation. If asked for salary requirements or expectations, be realistic. Do not shoot for the moon and take yourself out of consideration if you would realistically accept less. At the same time, do not go below your minimally acceptable salary and try to negotiate it later. That is misleading and not fair to the employer, and it is certainly not the right way to start a potential relationship. If you would not accept less than $80,000, for example, put $80,000 or better yet, $80,000-$100,000. Ranges can be your friend. Do not put $75,000 and be offended at the offer stage.

If an application asks for your current salary, think very carefully about that employer. Trying to bring people in at their current salary can create inequality inside the organization and is one of the greatest contributors to gender and pay disparity. If you are a female or minority candidate, or someone under 30, you are more likely to start in that organization earning less than your value and may never catch up to your peers. Asking about current salary is illegal in many states and municipalities, so know your rights.

3. Stress your interest in the position. Let the people interviewing you know that you are enthusiastic about their company and the position. Explain that monetary compensation is just one factor for you and that you are also interested in career advancement, gratifying work, and other considerations.

4. Conduct background research. Gather all the information you can about average salaries for the openings you are looking at. Visit your local library or check online on websites such as Salary.com or Payscale.com.

Steps to Take After You Get a Job Offer

1. Ask for clarification. Congratulations on receiving a job offer. Now is the time to discuss salary. It is still advantageous if you can get the employer to take the first step and let you know the budget they are working with.

2. Evaluate the whole package. Remember that your salary is just one item in your entire compensation package. Pay attention to all the details including paid leave, health insurance and retirement accounts.

3. Negotiate in good faith. Aim for a win-win solution. To start off on a good relationship with your employer, you both want to feel that you were treated fairly.

4. Put it in writing. Ask for a written letter of agreement or cite everything you discussed in your thank you email following up on the job offer. You want to be sure you are on the same page.

5. You deserve time to consider the offer. It is acceptable to ask for 48–72 hours to consider a job offer.

Steps to Take in Special Circumstances

1. Juggle multiple offers skillfully. It is common to use one offer to leverage a higher offer for the position you most prefer. Give each prospective employer a firm date for making your decision and decline graciously if you choose to work elsewhere.

2. Interview for lower paying positions. Go ahead and check out a position that sounds promising even if the stated pay is less than you need. You may be able to propose how you can be of extra value and wind up making you and your new boss incredibly happy.

3. Consider taking a pay cut. There are times when your income is likely to decline. If you are faced with a difficult economy or looking to change careers, a pay cut may make sense.

4. Work with a recruiter. One of the easiest ways to handle salary discussions is to work with a recruiter. They will usually manage much of the financial arrangements for you.

Show up for your next interview feeling ready and able to handle the question of compensation. There are many factors to consider when making a career move and money is one of the important issues, we all need to be able to address.

Deep End Talent Strategies has a worksheet and video to help walk you through options to not leave money on the table.

Deep End Talent Strategies
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