Salary: How To Handle The Inevitable Salary Question
When it comes to stating a specific salary you want in a cover letter or during an interview, the advice from experts over the years has been confusing.
Today, career counselors say it’s simply unrealistic to keep mum when asked how much money you want, if for no other reason than to avoid awkward periods of silence during the interview.
Still, most experts advise against locking yourself into a specific number.
“The reality is that they will ask you about salary,” says Peter Vogt, president of Career Planning Resources. “If they ask about salary, you need to do something. But that doesn’t mean you have to give a specific number.”
One approach to answering the inevitable, “So, what kind of salary are you looking for?” is to say: “It’s negotiable.”
Another approach, and one most career counselors stand behind, is to provide a range.
Think about what salary you are accustomed to receiving and the amount of money you need to maintain your lifestyle and, of course, a figure comparable to what the industry is paying for the job in question.
“There are a lot of ways to find out what you are worth,” says Tom Welch, America’s Career Coach and author of “The Breakthrough Job Search Cure.” “You could ask a friend who works in the industry. Or you can ask a recruiter. Or you can even check out salary surveys on the internet.”
If there is one steadfast rule in discussing salary, it’s that you want to avoid an uncomfortable situation.
Be prepared. Even if your intention is to leave the salary up to the person interviewing you, they may press the point, so you must be ready with an answer.
And experts suggest being prepared after the interview to ask for compensation beyond salary, such as vacation time, in case the prospective employer calls to offer you a job.
“You may want to ask for a bonus or additional vacation time or even ask to be reviewed in six months rather than one year,” says Welch.