Guest Author - Dianne Walker
The interview may be all about the organization, but when it comes to talking money it can certainly get quite personal. For many, the salary discussion is probably one of the most awkward moments during an interview. You know how much you need to make and they know how much they are willing to pay, so how do you get through this particular sticky point?
The application is usually the first opportunity you have to indicate how much you are willing to work for. Don’t short-change yourself, but don’t price yourself out of a job because there may be other perks to consider to make up for a lower salary. There are pros and cons to leaving this field blank. Leave it blank and you may not be considered. Some employers automatically assume that you’re too pricey. Put a salary, you might price yourself out of the market.
Do your research. Hopefully, you kept a copy of the job advertisement. Did it include a salary range? If a salary range was not listed, do a little research to see what the job pays in your area. Keep in mind that a computer programmer in small town in the mid-west, may pay differently than a computer programmer in a major city.
Many government jobs will list the full grade range, but also the starting salary range they are willing to pay. Anything over that mid-point may require additional approval and you may price yourself right out of the competition. “How much are you willing to accept?” This is a loaded question. First, if the salary was listed in the ad, did you pay attention to the details? Second, this is another opportunity for the hiring manager to weed out the over-priced candidates.
Unless it’s 100% true, don’t use phrases such as, “I will only accept 100,000 dollars per year.” Try to use gentler phrases such as, “I am looking for this (XXX), but I am willing to discuss salary further should an offer be made. There are many factors to take into consideration.”
What are those other factors? Years ago I left the private sector to take a lower paying government job. At my higher paying private sector job, I was driving 50 miles a day, round trip. I dropped the kids off at day care at 6:00 a.m. to be at work by 8:00. I left at 5:00 to be at the daycare before it closed at 7. I decided to apply and accepted a job with a local government for lower pay. My office is now seven blocks from my house. I leave the house at 7:55 am and arrive by 7:58. Not only was I not spending thirteen hours a day away from my family, but it turns out there were fewer hours in the work week for full time. The benefits were outstanding. For a lower salary, I was able to gain a life. There are always factors to take into consideration when contemplating a salary.
Think about the position and the salary first, and then consider your lifestyle. You may want to work as an artist, but you can’t live on artist money and you can’t make the company pay a CEO salary for an artist position. The salary discussion can be tough and uncomfortable, but with a bit of research and soul-searching you may just come to a meeting of the minds.