By Charlotte Weeks
Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of interviewees like hearing “What are your salary requirements?” If they could respond with what they were actually thinking, it would probably sound something like this: “Anything!!” (If needing a job ASAP.) “The most you can possibly give me.” (If I could only figure out what that is!) “I have no clue.” (Probably the most common internal response!)
There are entire books written on how to negotiate salary, but I want to give you highlights of two of the most important. The first is education. You can’t even begin to bargain if you don’t know what the going salary is for people in your position and location. So how do you find out what that is? Like anything else, online! Google your job function + average pay; find job ads that list the salary offered; visit payscale.com to search according to function and geographic area. Of course, it never hurts to ask around. Conducting informational interviews or asking industry friends what the average salary is can only help. Whether in-person, online, or both, research as many sources as possible. You’ll end up with a more accurate profile instead of one number that could be at the very high or very low end of the range.
The other rule of thumb – if at all possible, avoid naming a number first! The key is to make them want to hire you so much that they’ll do whatever they can to get you what you want. This is tricky, because interviewees understandably don’t want to appear difficult. While there’s always a risk, in my experience, it’s small. Reduce it even further (and gain more bargaining power), by responding as respectfully as possible. Turning it around – while at the same time reminding the interviewer that you are interested in the position and don’t want to talk money yet – is a great way to deflect this question. One example is: “I’d love to hear more about the position and what it entails before I can give an accurate answer.” When conducting your research, don’t forget about benefits and perks. Even if you can’t get the association to budge on pay, they may be able to sweeten the pot with extras!