Salary: What to Do and What to say when You Are Asked

These days, if you are conducting a job hunt, you are sure to be asked, “What salary do you expect?” Whether it’s a job application you fill out on line or at a company; a phone interview or an in-person interview; or talking with a recruiter, it’s almost a guaranteed thing you will be asked that question.
I know that from talking with so many of you, there is a lot of confusion about what to do when asked this question.

Often, on an on-line form you have to fill that question in before you can advance in the application. Try putting in the word “confidential” instead of a number; if it won’t let you do that, put in a lot of 5’s so the company knows you are not misrepresenting your salary.

As for a phone, or in-person interview, think carefully before divulging your past salary history. Many people think that by NOT doing so, it could prejudice an employer’s offer, so they gladly reveal their salary history if asked, so as not to be disqualified. Just because employers keep insisting & pretending you must hand over your salary information, does not mean you have to come up with new ways to answer them.

What you can say, however, is “My last company considers that information confidential, but I’ve been doing some investigating, and for this position and this area, I would expect a salary of between $$$$ and $$$$” Of course, in order to say this with integrity, you have to have done your research to find out what those numbers are.

Find a JobAlso, your focus should be on projecting a clear impression of what’s important to you & what you’re worth. When you withhold your salary history, it forces you & an employer to negotiate based on your future value and how you can help that company succeed. Do you really want to get stuck defending what your last employer paid you? Usually, sharing your old salary will almost always result in a lower job offer. Employers who rely on salary history to judge you, are trusting another company’s evaluation of you. Think about that. It’s almost insane. What really matters is what you can do for this company now & in the future. Why does it need your last employer’s “salary input” to evaluate this?

However, when you are dealing with a recruiter, it is quite different from when an employer asks the question. It can be beneficial to share your salary history – if you trust him/her completely!

Sometimes you go to an interview and the question of salary never comes up, but you are interested in the position and want to know whether to pursue it any further. It then becomes up to you to find out what the salary is.

To do this, keep it short and to the point – ask “What’s the pay like?” this is an honest, enthusiastic question that you need to know in order to make an informed decision. You are not asking for a specific number, just a salary range, so it’s best to get it out in the open.

Of course, the only reason any employer pays you for the value you will bring to help them succeed. Therefore, it is essential to know and to express this value so the employer sees how you are the best candidate for the job.

***I want to make sure you have every opportunity to get calls for the job opportunities you want – you need to start with a stellar resume – one that highlights your value – so I am offering you a complementary resume critique. Just email your resume to me at careerist@aol.com & put “Resume Critique” in the subject line & I will critique your resume. I look forward to hearing from you. ***

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