How do I discuss the salary question?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,208
    Louise Kursmark explains how to negotiate salary and compensation during an interview.

    Host: How do I discuss the salary question?

    Louise Kursmark: Salary and compensation is such a sensitive issue. Most people do not like to talk about it, they are not good at negotiating it and they are concerned that that discussion is going to be a real negative during an interview or during a negotiating process. So, mentally preparing for it is important, but it s also important that you understand that how essential it is for your career to negotiate the very best salary that you can get, because every time that you get a raise, it s based on your salary. So, a percentage of your salary typically, is what your raise is given. So, your first salary really impacts every raise and the entire salary that you have throughout your career. So, learning to do good in the negotiation dance, the salary negotiation dance is really an essential career skill and I do suggest that you practice that and learn as best that you can. So, I like to describe it as a comparable to a shopping expedition. In the early stages of the process the employer is shopping for a new employee, has specific qualifications in mind, looking for certain things and generally has a budget in mind. Great, let s say you are out shopping for a new pair of shoes and you are going to spend a $100 on a new pair of shoes. You go out and you see a pair of shoes you absolutely love, they fit your purpose, they just delight you every time you put them on your feet and you know they are going to be a valuable addition to your wardrobe for a long time to come, but they are $120. I bet that most of you are going to buy the shoes. The same thing is true with the employer. They have found someone, you, who meets their criteria, who adds a lot of value, there is going to be a continuously profitable and productive employee delivering value to the company over the long term and they do not want to lose you by under pricing you, neither do they want to pay you too much of course, they have fiscal responsibility, but once they have decided they really want you, the chance of offering a higher salary are much, much better. That is the reason you do not want to disclose or discuss salary too early in the process, because they have not committed to you yet. They have not been willing to buy you, they are still shopping. So, learn how to differ and deflect and not discuss salary as much as you can during the interview process. For example, if the interviewer says, How much are you looking to make? or What would it take to bring you on board? You need to learn how gracefully to say something like, I am really not that concerned about salary. I am sure that if you decide I am the right person for the job, it will not be an issue, or I am sure your company pays competitive salary, it s not the most important concern I have. I would really rather determine if I am the right person for the job. So, differ and deflect and bring the discussion back to whether you are that right person for the job. Now, sometimes, people will be concerned that they are going to antagonize the interviewer and they do not want to get into a struggle match with the interviewer that they really can not win because if you turn that person off and anger that person, you are not probably going to be invited back for another interview. So, at some point you might feel compelled to reveal some information. Instead of saying, I am looking for $65,000 a year, you want to come up with a response that is a little bit more beneficial to you. You could say something like, My research shows that salaries of for positions of this kind are in the 60 to $90,000 range. Is that what you were expecting? So, once again, you are establishing a certain expectation, but you are not being really final about it and your chance of negotiating the higher level salary are much better than if you came in with a single low in number. Now, all of this requires that you do some homework, do some preparation and that you are actually able to do this during the stress of an interview. Do not be too hard on yourself. If you blurred out a number and you can not follow the recommendations that I just given you, it s extremely natural. Relax, move on and go on with the interview to see if you are the right person and worry about negotiating exact salary once an offer has been extended.