Handling the question of SALARY

If there’s one topic that can make a job candidate squirm, it’s the topic of compensation.

And let’s just get this out of the way first: frankly, it’s no one business how much your salary was in previous jobs. But, if you tell that to a potential employer, you’re likely to NOT get an interview. However, if you frame your answer just right, you can communicate this very thing to a potential employer and get the job!

One of the easiest things to do when you happen upon the section of “Salary History” on an employment application is to simply write, “To be discussed in confidential interview”. While this may eliminate your application for further consideration, bear in mind that no smart company is going to require you, a complete stranger, to divulge your previous salary to them: another complete stranger. Consider it a blessing that you were eliminated and move on!

If your unwillingness to divulge such personal details didn’t get you kicked out of the applicant pool and you make it to the interview, the question will probably arise again there. So, prior to the interview, make sure you have a firm grasp on what your abilities are worth. In reality, your monetary value at a previous company is only relevant to that particular company’s environment. Your employer compensates you based on your worth to their company. And they can evaluate your worth in a variety of different ways: how much do they need your abilities? How much profit can you add to their company? How much can they afford to pay? Instead of coming up with a specific salary requirement, turn the question around to them and ask, “What is the salary range of this position?” Allowing them to provide you with their expectations, allows you to set your expectations appropriately.

If your interviewer seems unwilling to divulge any salary-related information about the position, you may opt to answer their question in this manner: “While I received X compensation at my previous employer, I have since realized the enormous value they received from the specialized skillset I brought to their company. Based on that, I’ve adjusted my required salary range to between $ X and $ X.” In that one sentence, you’ve politely communicated that know your worth and that you add tremendous value to your employer.

The key to salary question is to always attempt to keep the negotiating leverage in your court. By automatically replying to tough salary questions with exact answers, you give up your ability to negotiate. And, that is an enormous mistake that many make when beginning a new job.

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