Salary Negotiating

Posted on January 27, 2009 @ 2:10 am
by Trevor Davide Grant

One of my newsletter subscribers asked me whether or not it was okay to talk about salary during the first interview with an employer. They were worried that it would give the wrong impression. How could they avoid revealing their salary expectations too soon? They were wondering how they could postpone this discussion until the right time. My golden rule is to never lie to anyone. Therefore you need some good strategies to avoid this topic until the last minute.

In the past, I have been in the same situation, and have been pressured for a response to the tough questions on salary. My approach has been as follows.

1) My first response would be to try to defer the topic until later. Because we haven’t really gotten through the responsibilities of the job, nor the contributions I can make in the new position. The new job is somewhat different from the past job because the company’s market, product or industry are somewhat different than the past companies. Therefore the past salary history is not all that applicable. I would prefer to be paid in accordance with the market and the company’s hiring practices.

2) I have been pressed for an answer several times, and my response is to first try to push it until later in the meeting. I explain that while it is important to me, it is not the most important factor. I would rather ensure that both the employer and I are happy with one another, and that the job lines up with my experience and that my contributions and the company’s salary line up within both a fair market value and within the company guidelines. There are many factors beyond just cash that need to be discussed before we can address the salary bottom line.

3) While you may feel you are a high performer, you also may be somewhere above average but not commanding the highest pay. Know the salary range for the job you are applying to, but be realistic when setting your percentile level for your salary expectation. The majority of people are between the 25% and 75% level. Remember that the employer will confirm your performance level with your past employers at reference checking time.

4) Even if you had been making a lower than average salary before, possibly even well below the average for that job in that market, you should expect to be paid within that fair market range when you go to your next career opportunity. You may have one of many reasons for accepting a job at a lower salary than at your previous job. It doesn’t explain your value to the new company. The end analysis is that your value to the market is what the market is currently defining as the salary range for your talent, your level of performance and experience in the industry.

5) If you disclose your salary history information, remember to state your case about the relevance of the information. You may give your personal reasons for accepting the lower pay, but most important is to explain you want the outcome of the salary negotiation to be one where both parties are respected, and that they feel a sense of win-win in the outcome.

Never lie to a prospective employer. This is cardinal rule number one. The new company will find out facts and do their legwork to assess your history and past performance. You need to clearly communicate the value you bring and that your past salary history whether high or low is not too pertinent to the new job. You need to be met with fairness in the recruiting process, and that your value proposition is clear and well expressed.

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