Negotiating your salary may be awkward, but it’s also incredibly important. Your starting salary sets the bar for your future earnings, from overtime to raises and promotions. So, when the topic inevitably comes up during your job interview, you want to be prepared. Here’s how to approach the subject.
1. ARM YOURSELF WITH RESEARCH.
It should go without saying, but research is key to nailing your job interview, and that includes the salary question. You can get an idea of what the market rate for your position is using sites that crowdsource salary information, like Glassdoor and PayScale.
“If you review this data prior to an interview you will at least have an idea of what the range is for the type of position you are applying for,” says David Carlson, author of Hustle Away Debt. “If you’re interviewing at a smaller firm that doesn’t have salary data available, consider looking at the average pay at large firms. It’s better to go into the interview with this information than nothing at all.”
Also, the nonprofit Educate to Career has a free salary calculator to help you determine your salary benchmark, based on your occupation and location.
2. WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE AN OFFER.
What’s your current salary? What’s your salary range? When your potential employer finally asks the million dollar question, keep in mind: It’s a loaded one. By tossing out a number, you automatically anchor a value to your work.
“Discussing your salary during a job interview almost always favors the employer,” Carlson says. “Keep this in mind if the interviewer asks you what salary you are looking for.”
The company should offer you a salary based on your skills and experience, and tossing out a number too early can diminish that. In other words, you don’t want to put a price tag on your work before the employer even has a chance to value it themselves.
“Politely tell the interviewer you would be open to discussing your desired salary but would prefer to wait until you have an official job offer,” says Carlson. “This may not be what the interviewer wants to hear, but it can help shut down the salary discussion.”