Know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em….

Know when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em….

Suit? No suit? Business casual…. What does that even mean? It’s 95 degrees out and you’re hauling down the street in a full suit, button down, and tie. You’re lost. AWESOME… and to top it off, you have about 1 minute to find where you’re interviewing and all of a sudden – nobody around you seems to speak English. Wait? So Park Street turns into Park Place but I have to cross over the highway? AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Nightmare? NOPE. It’s called interviewing. No matter how much you prepare, or feel comfortable, or read the different schools of opinion on the subject, they are still hands down one of the most uncomfortable situations to be in. Plus – that feeling of dread when you walk into the interview on a Friday wearing your suit while producing gallons of sweat – because suits are not really breathable – and you realize that it’s casual Friday. So there you stand, covered in sweat, clutching your briefcase/messenger bag – and you come trotting in as all heads swivel in your direction and you know what they’re thinking……..

“Here for an interview – ugh…… looks really hot and uncomfortable in that suit. SUCKS TO BE HIM.”

So you’re cruising through the interview. You’ve remembered the criticals:
• Make eye contact
• Firm handshake
• Thoughtful answers
• You’ve studied the company forward/backward
• You’ve formulated fantastic fact-finding questions
• You brought copies of your resume
• You truly want/enjoy the role and are selling your interest to the interviewer
• You are charming, engaging.

And now…… the final question. The interviewer stops, picks up his very expensive pen that could weigh upwards of a pound and says very matter-of-factly “Well John. I have to say you seem like a great fit for XYZ Corporation. So now let me ask you – what is your salary requirement?”

And it happens…. You feel yourself slipping into the void and your chair turns into a Venus Fly Trap (similar to Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors). What do you say?
• What you “WANT” to be making?
• What you “NEED” to be making,?
• What you “HAVE BEEN” making?

…… oh jeez!!! What if you overprice yourself? What if you underprice yourself and they could have paid you $10k more? OH THE MADNESS!!!

Let’s face it – money is THE MOST DIFFICULT THING TO TALK ABOUT. (Close 2nd – when a friend has something hanging out of their nose). Take a deep breath, remember this blog, and remember these tips:

Kelly’s 10 Tips for Salary Negotiation
• #1 – You are not there for charity and neither are they. It is a given that you are there to make a living – money is critical to “making a living.”
• #2 – They will rarely if ever quote a salary range to you out of the gate and if they do – it’s a vast range. Ie. This role will pay between $20k and $120k. Very similar to the cable guy’s work schedule.
• #3 – There are ways for companies to verify salary so whatever you do – do not blatantly lie about your prior salary history.
• #4 – I understand that you felt underpaid at your last job but an increase from $40k to $95k may be a hard sell to that company. If you TRULY believe that a $55k INCREASE is something you deserve, have reasons to back it up including what the market cost is for someone completing those tasks.
• #5 – KNOW YOUR MARKET – Are you a copywriter? What do other copywriters make on average. It is a much more convincing argument to say “I am looking for X based upon my prior salary and knowledge of the industry average of X amount.”
• #6 – “I’m flexible” is not an answer to a salary question. Gymnastics questions? YES. Salary questions – no.
• #7 - You should consider your three ranges and know them well. Your ideal salary range, your true salary range, and your bottom salary range – meaning that if you go below that range, paying your bills becomes difficult.
• #8 - Research the company you’re interviewing with – are they known for lower salary ranges but have AWESOME perks/vacation time, etc?
• #9 – Other than salary, what are your motivating factors? Do you want more time off? Do you really want a strong healthcare plan? Is there room for advancement in this company that would warrant a pay decrease in the interim because the overall long-term potential for growth is there?
• #10 – As hilarious as we all find it, $1 million-zillion dollars in the voice of Dr. Evil from Austin Powers is never the right answer.

If in doubt and you are truly uncomfortable, simply say “My most recent salary/current salary is $55k and based upon this role - ” and go from there. It sets the standard for the conversation without backing you in to an undesirable salary range.

Happy Job Hunting!

Views: 127

Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 8, 2010 at 12:42pm
I will try twice to ascertain a salary range with a new candidate. Once in a direct question either current or asking salary. If i get the "i am flexible" answer i ask one more time with an explanation. "I can not submit to this client without giving them a range, please let me know a range between what you might accept and what would make you very happy". If i still get the garbage of , "i prefer not to talk about salary until after the interview the candidate gets the following message.

"I am sorry but we are unable to represent candidates who will not provide either an asking salary range or their current compensation package". I do not have time for games nor do my clients.

On one occasion a very qualified candidate refused to provide salary range because a career counselor had told him not to. I sent his CV to the hiring manager with a notation that the candidate had refused to provide his salary range or asking salary. The message that came back..."Tell him he has a very nice resume, we are sorry we will not be able to consider him for this position". The candidate then wanted to provide current and asking salary. Sorry too late.

Many times a client does not have a set salary range on a new position and wants to know what it will take to find the experience they want. Successful candidates are candid about asking salary.


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