Ask A Progeek: Salary requests?

So man, we keep getting questions – I’d call this idea a success.  So what’s next?

“A lot of these application forms insist you give them a salary expectation.  I was always told not to get into specifics about money until the end of the interview.  I was also always told never to leave anything blank in the application (also, the computerized ones count it as a required field).  So, should I talk about salary during the application or not?  And if not, how do I get around it until it’s time?”

Frankly, unless it’s a low-level job that’s going to pay low/minimum, everyone talks salary.  The key is to know HOW.

The question is really “how do you get paid what you’re worth/want”).  To do that you have to know the right things and know how to ask.

#1 Research

Never apply for job or position without knowing the likely salary, and my hidden secret here is the fantastic  Ignore the ads and other stuff, this site is pure gold and is pretty accurate based on my investigations.  This will give you a salary range to use in bargaining and evaluating.

You can also check industry specific reports – they’re all over the next.  Find one for your specific industry/career if it’s specialized or doesn’t have it.  Keep track of it.

#2 What Do They Say?

Look at the job description.  Does it give a pay rate?  If it’s below what your research says, or unusually high, be cautious and investigate.

Many job postings list salary, but it’s often missed, poorly written, or confusing.

#3 Evaluate The Situation

So knowing this information, what do you do?

  1. If you don’t feel you can ask for a specific, try entering “market average” or “as appropriate.”  This is great as it suggests you may have done research or know what this average is – but isn’t overcommitted.
  2. If the amount they offer is low, highball it to their highest level, or use the above ideas.  This depends on if you’ll accept that level of pay.
  3. If you can, give a range based on your research.  This gives room for negotiation and also shows you did research.
  4. If you must go specific, I usually list slightly below-average with a “+” at the end or the word “around” or something.  Gives it some wiggle room.
  5. If you HAVE to be specific, go average.

The overall goal is to get what you what, what’s reasonable, but leave enough room for negotiation.

A few other tips:

  1. If you had/have offers, give rough quotes in interviews so people know what you’re worth.  Don’t brag, show awareness.
  2. Demonstrate value before talking pay.  Make sure people know you’re worth it.
  3. Drop hints on your pay research if the subject comes up – and do it once and once only.  Let people know you did your checking.
  4. You are going to have to talk pay eventually.  You can’t avoid it.

I hope this helps.

Any other questions?  Feel free to ask!

Steven Savage