No matter how promising the opportunity, there’s no denying that salary is a major factor when accepting a job offer. For many of us, being compensated fairly for our skills and experience impacts job satisfaction.
However, it’s important to broach the salary conversation with your prospective employer at the right stage and with the right job interview preparation. Failing to do so could compromise your chance of securing the role.
Here are three factors to consider before you start discussing salary during the interview process.
1. Avoid salary talk during the courtship phase
The first interview is an opportunity for your potential employer to get to know you and identify your attributes and strengths. Before starting a dialogue about your salary expectations, you need to display suitability for the role and be sure the job is right for you. Waiting until the second or third interview is much wiser for discussing salary. Once you’re confident the company is interested, you can lay your cards on the table.
2. Don’t imply that money is your sole motivator
Although opportunities for a higher salary can be a catalyst for your decision to change jobs, suggesting that it’s your biggest motivation is a grave mistake. Discussing salary during the initial interview, or referencing it in your cover letter or resume, can send the message that you value dollar signs over opportunity and experience.
3. Make sure you leave room for negotiation
When you do decide to discuss wages, don't mention a specific figure – provide your preferred salary range instead. Showing that you're flexible is the first step towards negotiating a pay packet that’s viable for your employer and reflects your ambitions. Arm yourself with information by surveying friends in your industry and checking out salary guides to assess your market rate. If you do your research, you'll be better equipped to negotiate. Before you talk money, remember to put yourself in your potential employer's shoes. If you wait until you proved your value as a serious prospect, you're likely to get the best result.
If you feel that the salary topic will be raised, here are some important tips to remember when you want to start discussing salary in an interview:
Get your figures right
Do some homework and research the latest salary trends for your city, industry and job title by reviewing compensation surveys and publications such as the Robert Half Salary Guide, and talking to colleagues and recruiters.
Present a solid case when discussing salary
You need to be able to talk specifically about your skills, experience and prior successes, especially those that have had measurable effect on the bottom line. This will definitely benefit you when the time comes for salary negotiation. Don’t be afraid to let your enthusiasm for the role show – your passion can be contagious.
Don’t get ahead of yourself
Wait for the hiring manager to bring up the salary discussion and make sure you fully understand the requirements of the position before answering questions about your preferred pay. Ask prospective employers what they think would be an appropriate pay range for the position so you can avoid giving a figure that is too high or low when discussing salary.
It’s never a good move to mislead a prospective employer about your current compensation or other higher-paying job offers in an effort to get more money. Instead, emphasise the value you can bring to the organisation when discussing salary, and be honest about your desired remuneration.
When it comes to receiving a job offer and negotiating salary, here are a few considerations:
- Always try to negotiate – If you’re offered a salary that doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s okay to request additional compensation. Employers may start at the lower end of their salary range, leaving room to move.
- Think beyond the pay packet – Be sure to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer. The job you love could offer a generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company, which may compensate for a lower starting salary.
- Get it in writing – Before accepting a job offer, make sure that you get an offer in writing stating the salary. It’s never a good idea to formally accept a job offer without seeing it in writing.