Archive for the ‘Salary’ Category

Responding to Salary Questions

Monday, February 28th, 2011

You may have seen an ad for a job with the notation, “Please send resume and salary requirements” or “Please send resume and salary history.” And you may have wondered . . . how in the world do I respond to that inquiry without shooting myself in the foot?

I used to help clients answer salary questions and prepare salary histories all the time. I rarely do so anymore, because I believe providing salary information prior to an interview is likely to do more harm than good, and it virtually eliminates any negotiation leverage once an offer has been made.

Let’s say you’re making $100,000 a year and the job for which you’re applying pays $75,000. You may be willing to come down somewhat in salary, especially for the right opportunity, and if they meet you they may like you enough to negotiate a bit. But you’ll never get that chance if they see your current salary. “Too expensive for us,” they’ll say, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get a polite letter about being “overqualified.”

Or you may be making $75,000 a year, while the position for which you’re applying may be in the ballpark of $100,000. Do you get where I’m going with this? If you tell them what you make, they may decide you’re making too little and they don’t want to give you that much of a raise. Either they’ll lower the salary to fit you (something you would prefer to avoid), or they’ll give your resume the heave-ho and move on to a “more qualified” candidate. Either way, you lose. In addition, a lot of people have a problem with divulging sensitive salary information to a person they have never met.

An alternative is to respond to the question about salary, but to postpone giving an answer. You might say in a cover letter, “In response to your question about salary requirements, I am flexible with regard to salary, depending on the challenges and opportunities that the job offers. I would be happy to discuss this with you in greater detail once we have established a mutual interest.” Translation: Make me an offer, then we’ll talk.

There is, of course, some risk in not answering the dreaded salary question. There are employers who will not consider a candidate who doesn’t comply when asked to put the numbers on the table prior to the interview. In truth, however, there are risks either way. Too much information about salary too soon can sorely limit your opportunities. So weigh the options before you choose how you’re going to respond to a question about salary history or salary expectations.

There is an exception to all of this: When dealing with recruiters, put your cards on the table with regard to salary. Remember that most recruiters are paid on commission, so it is in their best interest to get you the highest salary possible.

To narrow down what salary is reasonable in your field of employment and geographic level, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook for median salary information on hundreds of occupations.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2011, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

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Negotiating a Salary Offer

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Since raises are based on current earnings, the salary you accept will determine your salary for the rest of your history with the company. If you accept something that is $5,000 below what you should receive, you’ll be $5,000 or more behind in raises, promotions, and bonuses for your entire tenure with an organization.

If you receive an offer that interests you, don’t be afraid to negotiate. A company invests a lot of time and money selecting a candidate. They don’t want to lose you now, so you have some leverage at this point that you will probably never have again.

You might begin a negotiation by saying, “Thank you for the offer. I’m very interested and would like a day to consider it. Is the salary fixed, or is it negotiable?” If the interviewer indicates that there is room to negotiate, say that you will think about it and call back the following day with an response and possible counter-offer. If they say the offer is not negotiable, I also recommend that you say you’ll think about it and call back later. I’ve known many a job seeker who lived to regret a hasty response, pro or con.

You can also negotiate paid leave, benefits, and other perks. I have a client who is a well-qualified nonprofit executive, and she gladly accepted a very low paying position with an agency that could ill afford to offer her any more money. Fortunately for them, she didn’t care about the money. She wanted more time off, and so she accepted the offer with the caveat that she receive six weeks of paid vacation a year. The company agreed, and everybody was happy.

As every sales representative in the world will tell you, all they can say is no. In fact, many employers expect job applicants to negotiate salary and other benefits, and deliberately make offers a little (and sometimes more than a little) low. I have actually had hiring executives tell me they are disappointed when a candidate accepts a position with no attempt to negotiate a better offer. So keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to ask for more.

~ Anne Follis, CPRW

© Copyright 2010, Anne Follis. All rights reserved.

We invite your comments and questions relating to this entry or the entire blog. However, please note that off-topic posts, as well as all spam, will be deleted.