If you or your spouse are in the market for a new job, you’re looking to bring home a decent paycheck, with a few extra perks, right? While compensation isn’t the only reason folks job-hunt, it certainly plays a part in the position someone might accept. Most people don’t work just to kill time, and no one ever said,
“You guys are paying me too much.”
With that in mind, it is important to know the etiquette and the ever-increasing legal landscape of talking dollars during the process. Before going into any interview situation, know your worth and have an idea of what the market will pay for the position for which you’re applying. Also, have a few reasons in mind of why you are worth the number you’re requesting.
If you don’t start out with a solid reasoning of what you’re worth and why, you might accept any number offered to you, leaving you dissatisfied in the end. In recent years, several states have made it illegal for employers to ask about an applicant’s salary history. If an applicant has experienced pay discrimination in the past or was simply underpaid, they don’t want their previous salary to undercut a current job offer. Knowing the laws in your state or province could help you navigate this dilemma.
Once you’ve started the interview process, you’ll likely be asked what level of salary you’re looking for or what your current salary is. Making your desired salary level known too early in the process can be off-putting or take you out of running for the position.
Focusing on what you bring to the table in terms of knowledge, skills, and abilities will convey your worth more than blurting out a number. An employer who is interested in discussing numbers first thing, might be more concerned with their budget than the skills and experience you bring to the table. While both the applicant and employer can feel like they are wasting their time if the number isn’t a match, talking about salary too early isn’t always the best choice.
After you believe the company has a good understanding of your background and you have a thorough understanding of the position, you’ve got the green light to discuss compensation. While it’s important to stand firm in knowing your worth, it is also important to realize companies are often constrained by budgets and their internal pay system.
Compensation is about more than just the annual take-home pay amount. Think about other facets of the job offer, such as vacation time, flexibility in schedule, bonuses and work hours. Being respectful during the negotiation process will pay off in the end. Talking compensation during an interview isn’t always the most comfortable conversation, but with a little research and practice, you’ll likely find yourself with an offer you’ll happily accept.