How To Get The Starting Salary You Want Hint: You Have To Ask
Do you accept the first salary offered, or do you negotiate?
Before starting my own business, I worked for small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and international corporations.
And during those years, I always accepted the first salary offer.
I didn’t try to negotiate a higher salary.
Not even once.
Mostly I was afraid they wouldn’t hire me. It turns out until recently; most candidates accepted the first offer. But things are changing.
Consider Responses To Salary Questions
Most job seekers dread the expected salary question. That’s not surprising as most Americans aren’t comfortable talking about income, even with friends. 80% of respondents to a Lexington Law survey said they wouldn’t ask a friend how much they make.
So why would a job seeker want to talk about compensation with a recruiter?
But, as a former recruiter, I know they ask to verify that your salary requirement aligns with the salary range for the position they are filling. Job seekers who have most of what the hiring manager is looking for will be offered salaries at the higher end of the spectrum, while wages at the lower end will go to those with fewer skills or less experience.
There are restrictions on “salary” questions depending on where you live. Many states have passed laws prohibiting employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, including asking about their current salary. Almost 50% of states have enacted salary history bans: 21 states as of July 30, 2021, according to HRDIVE, which keeps a running list of salary history bans.
However, you can be asked a salary expectation question during a job interview. You can try counter by asking what the range is for the position. The recruiter may tell you. They may say something like it depends on the candidate’s experience.
If the recruiter doesn’t disclose the range, you can provide your expected salary range. It’s also a good practice to be ready to give a number you can live with if pressed.
It’s important to remember that while typically there is room for salary negotiation, no matter how fabulous you may be, if the salary cap is $175K, it’s doubtful they will bump that up to $225K.
On the flip side, if the salary range is $150K to $175K and you say your target is $100K, a recruiter or potential employer will wonder if you are grossly exaggerating your ability or grossly underpaid
Choose A Salary Range
Research. Research. Research. There’s no substitute for researching the typical salary or average salary for your target position(s) before you begin your job search. Numerous salary information resources are a click away. Here are a few to start with:
Bureau of Labor and Statistics (Wage Data by Area and Occupation)
Occupational Outlook Handbook (Earnings)
After your initial research, talk to people familiar with or working in your target position about compensation. Ask friends, family, and former colleagues who they know and ask for introductions. Your college or university alumni association may be able to help as well.
Don’t forget that compensation is more than the base salary. A compensation package can include healthcare, vacation, tuition reimbursement, bonuses, flexible schedules, summer Fridays, work from home, etc.
Hybrid workplaces and remote work policies are on the rise. According to Jobvite’s 2021 Recruiter Nation Report, 70% of organizations will have hybrid-in-office and remote work policies going forward.
Go beyond evaluating jobs by Pros and Cons by developing a list of the most important criteria to you.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Salary Negotiation
In 2017, 52% of employers responding to a CareerBuilder survey said when they extended a job offer, they typically offered a lower salary to allow room for negotiation. With 26% saying the initial offer was $5K, or more, less than they were willing to pay.
However, 56% of employees responding to CareerBuilder in 2017 (see link above) said when they were offered a job, they didn’t try to negotiate a higher salary. Almost half (47%) said they didn’t negotiate because they were afraid the employer would decide not to hire them, 51% said they were uncomfortable asking for more money, and 36% didn’t want to appear greedy.
Things are different today. Jobvite’s 2021 Recruiter Nation Report (see link above) notes that 73% of surveyed recruiters reported at least a moderate increase in candidates and current employees negotiating for higher salaries. A 20% increase since 2020.
Most candidates look forward to a salary discussion as much as they look forward to having a root canal. Researching to understand the market value of your target position can help during the salary negotiation. While there’s no guarantee you’ll secure a higher starting salary; you most certainly won’t get a bump in pay if you don’t ask for one.