By: Eric Ronan, Practice Manager– El Segundo, CA
Ever feel uncomfortable when asked about your salary expectations? You are not alone. Most job seekers, no matter the industry, will at one point in their career encounter some sort of question about their salary history or desired salary. And for most candidates, they are afraid to say the wrong number because they don’t want to undersell themselves or scare the company away. Therefore, let’s talk about how you can discuss salary with a potential employer so that you can still put yourself in a position to get the job and the salary or compensation you feel you are worth.
Although this is can be frustrating for many candidates, discussing your salary history should be the easiest and most straightforward conversation to have with any new employer.
Many candidates find it frustrating, because they worry they may be judged off their current compensation. If you were underpaid, will your revelation mean that you’ll perpetually be underpaid? It’s a legitimate concern, with Massachusetts leading the way, making it illegal for companies to ask about salary history before offering a candidate a job. For the vast majority of job seekers who still need to reveal their salary history, it’s important to be honest and accurate when revealing your salary history. Most companies do conduct background checks and those checks often include employment and paycheck verification. Providing false information can jeopardize or disqualify your candidacy for the position. Beyond salary, it’s essential that you share any benefits or perks that you receive from your current employer that may be outstanding or abnormal, as it supplements your earnings.
Now comes the more challenging discussion; how do you answer a potential employer when they ask you how much you are looking for? This can be a very awkward and nerve- wracking, but its best to keep calm. Before you even put yourself in this situation, you might want to get a couple things answered and should know a couple things about your potential employer.
- First, it’s best to know the budget for the role and where you skill set matches up against the desired skills for the role. If you don’t have all the skills the client is looking for in the role or you didn’t excel in any of the interviews, it may be more of a challenge to secure the top of salary bracket.
- Second, it’s important to know what the benefits costs are in addition to any other expenses/perks may be there and how all this compares to your current employer.
- Lastly, you should know what your number is. Pick a number that makes you happy. Pick a number that’s a logical balance between your skill set, your life expenses (rent/mortgage, commute, cost of benefits), and the demands and responsibilities of your new job (amount of hours, the team, the skill set you will gain, etc.).
If you are able to get all this information then you should be prepared to have this conversation. When the topic comes up, it’s important to make sure that you talk about what you like about the job and stress that money is not the most important factor. At the same time, you want to make sure that the person you are talking to understands that you do have certain financial obligations to yourself, family, friends, etc. If pressed on a number, just make sure that whatever number you say, that it’s a number you are most comfortable with. It’s a fine balance to strike, because you don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot and undervalue yourself, but you also don’t want to go too high and take yourself out of the running.
As frustrating and challenging as salary conversations may be, keep in mind that in the end, no matter what number the company comes up with, you are under no obligation to accept it. Therefore, it’s best to put your best foot forward and focus on doing your best in the interview stage to prove to any potential employer that you are worth what you desire.