Last month you’ll remember we offered up the first five of 10 tips on discussing salary during your job hunt. This month we’ll finish off the list with the last five.
- When asked about salary during an interview, answer…and then stop talking – If you haven’t already provided salary information in an application or cover letter, you might find yourself sitting in front of the hiring manager and being asked, “What is your desired salary?”
It sounds daunting, but of course, you’ve already done your homework and you have a range ready. So, you say it. And then what? Nothing.
The best bit of salary advice I’ve gotten came from a fellow who told me, “After you answer the salary question, stop talking.” Too many people can’t stand the deafening silence that occurs after the number has been uttered; therefore, they keep talking…and talk themselves right down to a lower salary.
I would have thought this was silly advice if I had not received it from the person interviewing me immediately after I had done precisely this!
- Don’t play reindeer games – Pretty please with sugar on top: resist the temptation to play games during salary discussions.
Don’t ask for a higher salary than you really want because you are worried about being lowballed.
Don’t attempt to play multiple organizations off of each other in hopes of ratcheting up competing offers.
Don’t provide a salary range that you plan to inflate significantly in the final stages of the interview process without good reason.
Don’t be evasive, dishonest, or manipulative.
I’ve seen so many offers fall apart in the final stages because the employer felt misled. Friends don’t let friends play reindeer games.
- Bring up salary if they don’t – Once in a while I’ll hear from a candidate who tells me something like this: “I have had multiple phone interviews with an organization and now they want to fly me across the country for in-person interviews. While that’s great news, they have yet to provide a salary range for the role. Is that a problem?” Well, if you value time and money (yours and theirs), YES!
Why fly across the country for an interview before knowing if you and the hiring organization are on the same page (or at least the same chapter!) in terms of salary? Out of respect for yourself and the organization, bring up the topic before a flight is booked. It doesn’t have to be awkward or painful; simply say, “I would love the opportunity to interview in person. Before we do that, though, I thought it would make sense to briefly discuss salary to make sure we’re roughly on the same page.” Hiring managers will appreciate your thoughtfulness – especially if it turns out you are worlds apart and you save them $1500 in airfare and hotel charges! The situation is less dramatic with local interviews, but the point remains.
I’ll never forget hearing from an executive who told me he interviewed a candidate five times and only asked about salary right before making an offer. The candidate wanted a full 50k more than he could afford to pay. Oops. (And that, my friends, is why you should ask about salary up-front; you should value your time and others’ time too much to do otherwise!)
- Factor benefits into your salary considerations – When seriously considering a job/job offer, be sure to educate yourself about the health insurance and retirement benefits the organization provides. Some organizations may offer a higher salary to offset a lack of benefits, but you should do the math about how that works out for you.
Benefits packages can be worth thousands upon thousands (even tens of thousands) of dollars. Will you be on the financial hook to find and pay for your own health insurance or will the nonprofit offer a partially/fully subsidized plan? Does the organization offer a retirement account and, if so, is there an employer match?
Spend a few minutes with your trusty calculator to determine how much these benefits are worth annually and how much they add up over the long haul!
- Consider the complete package – In addition to the base salary and benefits, don’t forget to consider bonus potential, cost of living (if you’re moving to a new city), virtual work options, and other perks (gym memberships, parking, tuition reimbursement, etc.).
For instance, maybe you’re getting a 20% bump in pay, but if you’re moving to a city with a cost of living that is 40% higher than where you are now, that’s not good!
Or maybe you have two offers, one that pays a little more but requires a 45-minute commute each way and one that pays less but is virtual. What is 90 minutes a day worth to you?
And don’t be afraid to ask questions about specifics, as the devil is often in the details. For instance, if the organization is touting BIG bonus potential, ask what the average bonus was last year. If they sheepishly reply it was $100 and a membership to the Jelly of the Month Club, good to know that up-front!