Often times, it’s the elephant in the room during an interview. You probably know where this is going because you’ve been there (or maybe you just glanced at the title of this post). Either way, many job applicants find themselves in for a rude awakening when it comes time to discuss salary, usually because their expectations are way out of whack.
This unfortunate situation is not uncommon. Typically, it is the result of poor communication between the employer and potential employee. The employer should make salary expectations clear early in the process so that job seekers don’t form an overly optimistic opinion of an opening. Job seekers, on the other hand, should make sure that they have a firm understanding of the salary expectations to avoid wasting their (and the hiring manager’s) time.
Here are some tips on how to manage salary expectations during your job search:
Do some research
Before you get your heart set on a minimum salary that you’re willing to accept, do some research. A quick Google search will get you on the right track. Take a look at the position you’re interested in and see what the average compensation looks like. This will at least get you in the same ballpark as the employer, at which point you might be able to negotiate a little bit. Be careful to not base all of your expectations on previous jobs. While your experience might give you a better feel for what to expect, no two positions are exactly alike. Keep this in mind.
Communicate your expectations
In some situations, employers will use your salary expectation as a screening question. It could come up in the application or be required in your cover letter. Sometimes they will ask you what your expectations are during the interview. While it can be a daunting question, be honest. It will save you a lot of time, especially if your expectations don’t match up with theirs. That being said, make sure your expectations don’t come across as demands. Make it clear that you have some wiggle room. Hopefully you won’t be too far apart, though. Your research should give you a good idea of what to expect.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Do not start negotiating your salary before you have a job offer! This cannot be stressed enough. Make sure that you have taken care of the important part – convincing the employer that they should hire you. Once they offer you the job, don’t be afraid to negotiate a little. Obviously, you don’t want to demand double the salary they offered, but they probably won’t be opposed to giving you a small bump if you ask for it. Of course, when going through a staffing agency, almost the opposite is true. You should negotiate your salary with the recruiter and they will expect you to stick to that amount. The amount that they are billing your potential employer is based around your originally negotiated salary requirements.
Discussing salary expectations with a potential employer is always one of the more uncomfortable aspects of the job search, but it’s also very important (and I didn’t need to tell you that). When it comes down to it, just do your homework and be tactful – these two things alone will set you up for success.