In this article we discuss the best way to approach the salary question when applying for jobs.
Far too many advertised jobs these days offer a broadish salary range without any real explanation in the job description as to what you need to possess in terms of skills or experience, to reach the top end of the pay level.
Looking at the market in general, living costs are much more expensive than they were even just a couple of years ago, with transport, food and accommodation costs inflating way above salary levels.
What you will earn is very important when you are looking for a new job, however many people still don’t feel comfortable broaching the “m” word. How to get this across without giving a potentially good employer the impression that it is the only reason why you are interested in changing work can sometimes be tricky.
When should we discuss our monetary worth to an interviewer and how do we do this without talking ourselves out of the chance of receiving a much a higher salary offer, especially if it is there for the taking? When is the best time to bring up the salary question? Should you bring up the salary question or wait for the interviewer to bring it up? What is a good salary to ask for and how do I ask for it?
These are just some of the questions we get asked by our job seekers. Here are, hopefully a few snippets of advice which might help you along the way.
- Look at the original job advert and check what salary was being advertised specifically. Remember job boards sometimes group jobs in ranges. This doesn’t mean that is the salary, you may usually find this in a sub heading somewhere.
- Ask your recruiter. If you are working with a recruiter, ask them what the top end candidate looks like and what they think you could realistically expect to earn. They may often have recruited for similar roles with the same company and so should have a good understanding of what can be achieved.
- Pick the right timing. Personally, in a first interview, I would only bring salary up if the interviewer asks you about your salary requirements. Timing is important. Sometimes asking about salary at too early a stage of the process could give the impression that you’re more interested in how much you earn than you are in the actual job itself, it could also imply that you don’t have much to offer in terms of skills and experience. So, before you start to discuss this, make sure you cover all the other interview bases first. Whether it’s selling your skills, showing your personality / interest in the role, demonstrating your experience, or just concentrating on each individual question that comes up. It’s important to step back and gauge the situation, but I would also always suggest unless money is brought up by the interviewer, approach the subject with caution. Check how they come across first, and the intensity of the questions you’re being asked, to figure out whether money is a good topic of conversation. Similarly, using your questions at the end of an interview to bring up salary isn’t uncommon, and is the most effective way to introduce the subject politely – providing it’s not the only thing you ask about…
- Make sure you ask the right person. Pick the right person to ask. Discussing pay structures with the wrong people could create problems especially when talking to people who will become your peers. Usually leave these questions to someone who will be your Line Manager, Director or HR Business Partner.
- Be honest not greedy. Be consistent and don’t suddenly increase your salary expectations just because you feel there is a bigger pool of cash on offer. When you apply for a role decide at the very beginning what your minimum salary expectation is. Employers wont always offer the minimum, but they won’t look too favourably on a sudden increase of 10% more than what you originally asked for as they have budgets just like anyone else. If you have some flexibility about what you are paid, and the company haven’t interviewed all the other candidates they plan to meet then they might not be able to benchmark you just yet. So, if they ask you what you are looking for, be honest but don’t be greedy. If you ask for more than you’re level then they may likely decide that what you are asking for is too high in comparison to other candidates. In a recent interview one of my candidates applied for a job at £25,000 but then at interview asked for as near to £30,000 as possible when his existing salary was £23,000. Unfortunately, this automatically ruled him out of being shortlisted for the final selection, as the company immediately felt that their budget wouldn’t stretch to that level and it would be a waste of time taking his application any further. He was disappointed, but it was his fault; he didn’t make it clear to the interviewer that he was keen on the role and could be flexible. They just thought that, even if he accepted a lower pay, he would just resign as soon as he could find something better.
- If you are flexible then say so. On the other hand, if you are open about your salary requirements then tell the employer what you would genuinely like, making sure it is in line with your original salary statements. Offer them the chance to feedback to you as to whether what you are asking for would meet their expectations and, if you want to or need to, show them that there is some flexibility in what you are asking for whilst explaining to them that the job is genuinely one you can see yourself enjoying.
- Prepare your questions. The biggest and oldest mistake some people still make when they attend an interview, is to only ask about working hours and salary and not ask anything about the team, environment, the role and the prospects or even anything they had seen on the company website.
- Justify your value. If you are asking for the top end of the salary range, then make sure they understand why. Remind them of your worth, let them know how loyal and committed you would be and what value you could bring to the role.
For more interview tips take a look at our candidate page here.