It’s all about the money!
Generally at some point during a job interview you will be asked about your salary expectations – that is – how much money you are looking for. There are a few reasons that employers ask this question but the main reason is to be sure your salary expectation is in tune with what the role is paying. Here is some advice on answering this very direct question without losing a potential job offer…
Have an idea of what the job is paying
If the role you are applying for did not advertise a salary you need to research the average salary paid for the position, to do this go to a national job site and search title and location, this will give you a good idea of what it is going to pay. Never, ever go for an interview unless you have at least a vague idea of what the salary is going to be. You don’t want to waste your time nor do you want to waste the employers time.
Know your worth
You know what you are earning now or what you received in your last role. Use the research you have done to ask for a realistic figure above this. Remember be realistic, no one is going to give you a 50% salary increase, 10% would be good. There is nothing that an employers dislikes more than a job applicant who is pushing their luck and being greedy. You’ll only make a fool of yourself.
Never lie about what you are earning
If you are asked in an interview what your current salary is never lie. This is illegal, it really is a crime and could get you into all sorts of trouble. Be honest about what you are currently being paid because I promise you you will be found out if you are not and this is how. If you are offered the job the employer will approach your current/last employer for a reference, nine times out of ten the reference will ask for confirmation of your current/last salary. No-one wants to look like a liar so be honest if you are asked this question.
Be prepared to take a drop in salary if needed
If you are changing your career, have been unemployed for some length of time or are interviewing with a Company that is structured differently from your last employer you may have to take a small salary drop – be prepared. You also should expect to earn less if you are applying for a job in the local area after working in Central London. Working in town always pays a premium but then you have fares to cover. Working locally will definitely mean a drop in salary but will also be saving you probably two hours travelling time a day.
You don’t have to answer salary questions
If you are asked the question “what salary are you looking for” there is no law that says you have to answer. A good way of dealing with this is to say that you are looking for a competitive salary which reflects the responsibilities and experience required for the position. By putting a price on your head you could do one or two things. Firstly you could lose a job offer because you have over priced yourself. Secondly you could lose a pay increase by under pricing yourself. Sometimes it’s best to not actually answer this question.
Be vague if you are pushed
Rather than tell a potential employer what salary you’re looking for give a salary range. Avoid giving a specific figure – why put a limit on what you would accept. Be realistic but say something like “I believe this type of role usually pays between X and Z, that’s the range I’m looking for”. This is a clever way of dealing with the money question as you are giving the employer a salary band of what is acceptable to you without being specific.
Don’t be greedy
An employer will have a fair idea of what you are earning before they interview you. If you go into the interview and quote a highly inflated figure as the minimum salary you will accept you will not get a job offer. Every role has a ceiling in terms of salary and most employers will be paying in and around this amount. If you think that by asking for £10K more than you are currently earning you are going to receive this I can promise you you won’t. You may think you are worth this amount but if it is way above your market value you are not going to get it. Keep it real.
Never try to negotiate in an interview
You may have to negotiate your salary, but never, ever try to negotiate before you have been offered the role, how do you know the employer wants you? The time to negotiate if you need to is when you know they want you, but if you do negotiate be realistic – the employer will have a budget in place for the position. If you do try to negotiate before you actually receive a job offer you probably won’t be offered the job because the employer will consider you too pushy. It’s always best to be offered something and not ask for it. Manners are crucial in this situation.
Remember you are not Arthur Daley
If you do have to negotiate your salary do it with dignity. It’s not a market place or a Dutch auction. Be extremely professional with your negotiations. Work our what would be a reasonable salary for you and quote that figure. A reasonable salary would be your current salary and maybe a maximum of 10% increase. So if you are earning £20K it is reasonable to say you are looking for £22K. Don’t haggle. Quote a figure that is acceptable and leave it with the employer to make a decision.
It should never only be about the money
Being in a job you are happy in and working in an area you want to work in are two reasons why it shouldn’t always be about the money. Money is important as we all have bills to pay but it should never be the be all and end all of the reason you want a job. It is crucial that you enjoy your role, it is easy to get to, the people are nice and the work environment is good. Yes your wage packet is very important but so are these other considerations when you are offered a job.
So to finish, money shouldn’t be a dirty word when you are job seeking but be very, very careful when you are discussing it, always be honest, never haggle and make sure your job search is not all about the financial reward. We all work to earn but we also work to enjoy what we are doing – money really isn’t everything.
Happy job hunting!