Talent Tip #82: Five MORE Tips for Discussing Salary During Your Job Hunt
Last month we offered you five fabulous tips for discussing salary during your job search — all for the low, low price of zero dollars. Amazing, right? What if I told you I would throw in five BONUS tips for FREE (plus shipping and handling) this month?!
Well, in true infomercial fashion, I’m going to do it. But remember, this is a limited time offer!
1. Know Thy Market – As we discussed last month, you’ll want to consider market conditions when determining your desired salary range. Make sure to take into account current economic trends, cost of living, demand for your skill set, etc. One of the quickest ways to be eliminated from the running in a job search is to ask for an outlandish salary that doesn’t reflect the current market (and your market value!). This is especially true when you’re interviewing with a nonprofit organization. Remember that 990s will provide useful information about an organization’s recent budget and pay scale.
2. 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.
Let’s all learn something from Joe Biden and know when to stop talking.
3. 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 want because you are worried about being low-balled. Don’t attempt to play multiple organizations off each other in hopes of ratcheting up competing offers. Don’t be evasive, dishonest, or manipulative.
4. 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 interview 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 ask me about salary. 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’re 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 a 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 I ask about salary up-front; I value my clients’ and candidates’ time too much to do otherwise!)
5. Consider the Complete Package – When you get an offer, don’t just look at base salary. Consider bonus potential, health insurance, retirement benefits, cost of living (if you’re moving to a new city), growth potential, and other perks (gym memberships, parking, tuition reimbursement, etc.). 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!