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Image Credit: <www.computersciencesalaryrange.com

Image Credit: <www.computersciencesalaryrange.com

1. This is a misuse of the word travail, but it delighted me to use it here.I’m writing this one because during my daily travails 1 across the internet in search of new information about HR, I have come across many articles on salary negotiation. Some of the advice I agree with, some of it I don’t… and most all of it will work in one situation or another.

…So of course I also want to share my 2 cents.

As a former comp guy that has interviewed hundreds of people for positions spanning a fairly wide range of job functions, complexity, and scope – and that has asked nearly just as many their salary expectations at some point during the interview process – I can say two things with a fairly high degree of certainty:

1. When asked for their salary expectations, currently employed people are more likely to name a dollar amount at or above their current wage.

2. Many people haven’t done an awful lot of research into what the market pays for the role they’re interviewing for. I know this because the overwhelming majority of people cite their current salary plus 2 to 10 percent when asked for their salary expectations (a number that only occasionally aligns with the market rate).

These facts are key because they speak to two things you absolutely need to effectively answer the salary expectations question:

1. Mojo.

2. An understanding of your market worth.

There is some prevailing wisdom floating around that you should refuse to disclose your prior salary to an employer. At various points in time I’ve even championed this position. But really?

If you know what the market is paying for a job at your experience level and are qualified for it, the only thing that will stop an employer from paying you at that rate are internal salary compression issues. 

That’s it. In only a quarter of the interviews I’ve ever done have hiring managers even asked me what a candidate made in a prior role anyway. In most cases they just want to know what a qualified candidate is asking for – a number that typically only becomes an issue if compression comes into play.

If a recruiter asks what you’re seeking for a position, give them just that – a market driven answer that reflects what you’re willing to work for (and if the market rate for that position pays below what you’re willing to work for then you’re seeking the wrong role).

…If a recruiter insists on knowing your prior salary, the most powerful response I’ve ever heard is “I make X, and would need Y to consider this opportunity.” If that constitutes something like a 30% raise (presumably because you’re badly under market), just go with it. If the amount you cite is a fair market rate, is aligned with the company’s internal population, and you have the conviction to stand by it then a reasonable employer will offer it. If an employer tries to low-ball you in such an instance I would submit to you that you’re better off walking away.

How much money you negotiate for early in your career can dramatically impact your lifetime earnings. So do your research, have confidence in what you’re worth, ask for it, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the offer is below 2. Unless salary isn’t an issue for you… but in that case why would you have read this far? I don’t think I needed this footer.market. 2

That simple.

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.