Sunday, 7 December 2008

Salary Negotiation Do's and Don'ts

By Trevor Davide Grant

Once a person asked me if it was okay to talk about their salary history with an employer during an interview. They were concerned about discussing their history because it was a little low and they thought it would have a negative effect on their salary negotiation. They were wondering how they could avoid the topic with the employer until the right time. My rule is to never be dishonest with an employer, however it is a good idea to avoid this topic until you have nearly closed the deal with getting the job.

Many times I have faced the same scenario. When asked by the hiring managers what my expectations were or what my salary history is, I have used the following approach.

1) The approach I would take would be to ask to table the question until later in the interview or for another day. It is important to me that we have first come to a common understanding on the roles and responsibilities of the job, and also, the type of experience I bring to the job, and what I will be contributing to the new company. I would prefer to be paid in line with the current job market and within the companies standards for this role.

2) If put on the spot to respond during the interview, and they insist on knowing my previous salary, I mention the total value of what I expect for salary and all compensation. That includes cash, as well as benefits and other perks. I will mention holiday time, quality of life factors, and other things like pension and health plans. I also explain that what is most important to me is that the job offer is fair within the market rather than based on what I made in the past.

3) It is very important to be aware before interviewing for the job, what the range is for that position. It is important to determine where I believe I fit within the market percentiles for that job. Most people do not meet the top end of the salary range, and there needs to be room to grow into it. I don't recommend asking for the highest salary in the range unless you know you are a total super star. Your super star status will be confirmed by reference checks, so be reasonable, but also, don't undersell yourself.

4) Regardless of your past salary that you earned in that job role, you should expect to be paid fairly for the current market conditions. You should explain to the new employer that regardless of your past salary, whether it was at or below the market range, you would like to be paid at the salary level that is fair. Your reasons for having a lower than average salary in the past are not pertinent to the new job, and your life situation has changed. Therefore your goal is to have a fair salary negotiation that both sides will be pleased with.

5) If you disclose your salary history information, remember to state your case about the relevance of the information. You may give your personal reasons for accepting the lower pay, but most important is to explain you want the outcome of the salary negotiation to be one where both parties are respected, and that they feel a sense of win-win in the outcome.

Honesty is imperative when doing interviews. Employers have many means to determine whether you've been honest with them in the hiring process. What is most important is to be clear about what you can contribute to the company first, and that you expect fairness in the hiring process.

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