Let’s talk salary (no, let’s not)

Let’s talk salary (no, let’s not)

It’s an interview tip often dished out to aspiring job seekers; don’t talk about your salary expectation during the interview. But what if your prospective employer does?

Ahhhh, money. It makes dreams comes true when in abundance, can turn life into a living nightmare when in short supply and, in between, makes a lot of people very uncomfortable to talk about. The job interview is one such setting where money, according to many, should not be on the agenda, but this has always made me wonder. If not during the interview, just when is money okay to talk about throughout the job seeking process?

Picture this: you’re sitting in the interview, and everything is going well. You’ve progressed through the initial application process and phone interview, and you’re convinced the company is a good fit for you. So far during the interview, you’ve made the hiring manager smile – even laugh – and her associate is also nodding with approval as you explain what you can contribute to this great company.
And then, with five minutes to go until you leave, the question comes. What salary are you looking for?

There’s a slight pause and then, the big elephant in the room comes over, crashes all over the table, spills your barely-touched glass of water and really shakes you up. What the hell are you going to say? Say too much and you may be written off as delusional, greedy, grasping. Say too little, however, and you might get the job you want, but you’ll commence it with an underlying feeling of not being paid enough, a gripe that only breeds resentment over time.
You know how much you want, or think you deserve, or think you can get away with. You’ve thought about it long and hard, done some market research on market averages and read the salary surveys released by a swag of recruitment companies and specialists. You’ve even had the gall to ask your friends working in the same industry what they earn!

So why now, when you’ve been justifying to yourself for days why you’re worth that amount, are you thinking about dropping five or $10K off that amount, just to land the job?

Someone once said to me, “be proud of your price”; good advice, but only if you know your price is a good one.

If the question comes (and it will at some point), it’s important to justify why you’re worth your stated salary; think about the value you can offer your employer. Money may make the world go round, but it’s not everything. Many employers these days may offer slightly lower salaries, but offer much more in terms of workplace culture, perks and benefits like flexible work alternatives. Understand the trade-offs involved; higher salaries can be synonymous with horror hours, for example.

Know what you want, and be confident in articulating your value-adding capabilities. Ultimately, we all want to go to work somewhere where we enjoy our work, can be challenged and take home a decent salary that allows us to live comfortably.

While talking about money is rarely enjoyable – particularly with strangers during a job interview – it is a necessary part of life. Equipped with the right information, confidence and realistic expectations, talking about salaries doesn’t have to provoke fear or dread; it can be just another positive step along your journey to securing the right job.

For other interview related articles see:

Counter Offers – just say “no”!

Interviewing tips Part 1 – Before the interview

Interviewing tips Part 2 – The interview


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