There’s one interview question that stumps a lot of candidates: what are your salary expectations? They either don’t have an answer ready or feel self-conscious discussing it. But with a little bit of preparation you can confidently tell your potential future employer what you’re worth to ensure you get the best salary.
talking about your salary doesn’t have to be awkward
There are two schools of thought: one is you should discuss your salary, the other is you shouldn’t. And as a recruiter I’m definitely in the ‘should discuss’ camp. If I interview a candidate and they refuse to tell me what salary they want, the process comes to a grinding halt.
Recruiters need to know if what you expect is within budget. If it isn’t, carrying on the process is a waste of everybody’s time. Likewise if a salary isn’t mentioned don’t be afraid to ask politely – you need to know just as much as they do.
If you think you’re worth $150,000 and you’re offered $100,000, don’t take it personally. There are plenty of valid reasons why a company might not be able to match your salary expectations. For example: they need to keep it in line with the pay of employees doing a similar job, competitors are paying less or there are benefits in addition to the salary. The size and performance of the company may also have an impact. Having said that, be careful not to sell yourself short.
How to talk about your salary without it costing you the job
Be prepared and be diplomatic. When you’re asked, explain your expectations while outlining what you can offer to justify the price tag. Emphasise what you can be flexible on in terms of the role’s responsibilities and the total remuneration package.
The mistake most candidates make is not considering the whole package on offer. Your salary is the cash in your hand, but your total package includes the cost of all the components of your employment, such as: phone, car, bonus, health insurance, gym membership, superannuation, opportunities to salary sacrifice, relocation reimbursement, purchased annual leave, daycare, other insurances and so on.
On top of that there are benefits such as flexible working and training and development opportunities, as well as the work-life balance offered, that can make an average salary enticing.
Make sure you have a full understanding of what the total package is before discussing your salary expectations in an interview. If you don’t have this information before the interview, be open about your expectations but ask for a little time to weigh up the whole package.
Find out what you’re worth first
Before you start negotiating you need to have an idea of what your salary should be. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, it’s a good idea to know how much you’re worth.
Keep an eye on who is advertising and what they are paying all year round, take an online salary survey and talk to your network. When you do, get a balanced view by asking both men and women – companies always claim gender wage parity but in reality this is often not the case.
Agency recruiters have a wealth of salary knowledge. So use them too. Find one that specialises in your sector – given they work with multiple companies and are regularly placing candidates in your industry they’re well placed to advise you.
Once you have a figure in mind, work out how to pitch it. Telling a potential employer a set number is a risky strategy, instead give them a range of around $10,000. And bear in mind, if you’re looking for flexibility and work-life balance it might be worth sacrificing some pay.
You should now be in a good position to discuss your salary expectations with confidence. And confidence is key to a successful interview.
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