Last week I wrote about how and why employers use the salary field to filter candidates. Many folks asked, what is one to do when asked about salary requirements? Here are some ideas to consider:
- It is best to act from a position of information. Check out http://www.salary.com, http://www.payscale.com, http://www.glassdoor.com or ask networking contacts in the industry about an appropriate salary range. Be sure to find a job description (and not just job title) that matches your target job when using these sites. Also, be sure the location is accounted for when figuring out salary needs.
- Never give a specific number, a range is always preferable. I recommend a 10% range; for example, if you think you should be paid 70K, give a range of with $7,000 between your low and high point.
- Be sure your low point is a number that you could accept.
- Salary is what an organization is willing to pay someone to perform a specific job, salary is not what you are worth. What you made at you last position may have very little influence into what your future employer is willing to offer.
- If you can deflect the answer on the application or interview, I recommend doing so. It is most appropriate to speak about salary when an offer is made. For example “My salary needs are negotiable as I would prefer to consider an entire compensation package as opposed to focusing on a number.” This is key as costs of health care, retirement contributions, vacation days, etc. can alter the overall value of the package.
- As a rule of thumb, entry-level employees have less for negotiations – this is particularly applicable with large companies who are hiring several people for the same job function.
While salary is important in considering job offers, be sure to look at the full picture. An extra $5000/year may seem like a large salary divide, but it works out to about $67/week. If the higher paying job increases your commute an extra hour round trip or if you have to pay for a bus/train pass instead of walking, you may end up on the short end when costs of transportation are factored into the equation. The same is true when factoring in health care costs, retirement funding, stability of the company, chance for advancement, job function and other factors that weigh-in on any job decision.