Career Corner: Discussing salary…
After several years of working in Human Resources, I have recognized that salary discussions can be particularly uncomfortable for candidates. At some point during the recruitment process- either when you’ve been asked to meet with Company representatives for an interview, and/or at the time when the company has decided to make you an offer of employment...the issue of salary will come up.
Often times when I am consulted about salary, persons express a number of concerns such as wanting to know:
- Should they should discuss salary during the interview
- Can they ask about salary before the Recruiter discusses it
- How much money should they ask for
- Are there consequences for asking for more money than what the company is offering
These are all valid questions, but I caution against a fixed response because there are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration when discussing salary, such as:
- the industry the company operates in, as this can impact how much they will pay
- the duties associated with the job
- the years of experience and education level of the prospective employee
- the experience actually required to effectively carry out the job (a candidate may have more experience than what is required)
- the total compensation package being offered by the company
With this in mind, here are a few things to consider before you interview for a new job, and before you accept (or reject) the company’s offer of employment:
- Salary discussions before the interview. You can discuss salary/ salary expectations before going to the interview. Traditionally, candidates have been advised not to ask about salary until the recruiter discusses the topic. While this advice still has some merit, there is also value in asking about salary beforehand. If you get salary information before the interview and realize that what is being offered is significantly below what you are willing to work for-then there is no need to go through the recruitment process. Getting information beforehand saves your time and the time of the recruiter.
- Do your research. If you opt not to ask about salary beforehand, be prepared to have salary discussions during the interview and to tell the recruiter what you expect to be paid. Research the company, the industry and the salary range for the position you are interviewing for. Having general knowledge of salary being paid within the industry helps you to ensure that what you are offered is in keeping with market standards….and allows you to negotiate (or turn down) the offer if it is not.
- Be Specific. Assess your skill level, experience, and the duties associated with the job and then ask for what you want to be compensated. Do not be concerned about asking for more than the company may offer (see ‘Negotiate’ below). It is far better to be specific and to ask for the salary you want, rather than to merely accept any salary that is offered to you
- Negotiate. Although there may be instances where you ask for more than the company initially intended to pay- this is ok. At this point of the recruitment process you must be prepared to negotiate, and have further salary discussions with the recruiter. If the company has made you an offer, it means they want you to join their team and they may be quite likely to engage in negotiations with you. You have significant negotiating power before you sign a contract ...use this to your advantage.
- Consider the overall compensation package. At times, the company may not offer you the basic salary you requested, however it is important to assess the entire compensation package (including the benefits that come with the position). There are instances where the overall compensation package may exceed what you initially asked for. It is important to review the offer in its entirety, and to not just rely solely on the basic salary to make a decision.
Although uncomfortable for some, salary discussions are inevitable and the topic will be raised with you. Be prepared to have these discussions with the recruiter… Good Luck to you!
Malaika Edwards is a Human Resources consultant and provides advisory services to individuals and business clients. She is also a PhD scholar at the Louisiana State University (LSU) where she specializes in Human Resources and Workforce Development. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/malaika-edwards.