Whether you are applying for a position on or off line or being interviewed by a recruiter, the question of your salary expectation will eventually come up. Will you be able to respond in a way that does not eliminate you for consideration of the job you are seeking? Also, will you be comfortable with the answer you give?
The key to responding to the salary expectation question is to first research the salary market for the job before applying or interviewing for it. This will put you in a much better position in asking for a salary that is in the market range of the position.
Also, be aware that there are several factors that determine the pay of a position. Say for example you made $60,000 at your last or current job. Should you ask for at least $61,000 in the next job you seek? Or should you ask for at least 7% more than your last or current position? Again, it all depends on several factors. Among those factors are:
- Size of the company. Generally, larger companies tend to pay higher salaries than smaller companies. This is primarily because they usually have a bigger bankroll to support paying larger salaries. So, a secretary working at small Ma and Pop company will most likely make less than a secretary with the same skills and experience working at a much large company.
- Market for the position. The geographic market which you work will also have a factor on pay. For example, a staff nurse in a hospital in Stone Mountain, Georgia is more likely to make less than that of a staff nurse with the same skills and experience working in a hospital in a larger market such as Chicago or New York.
- The industry you work in. The industry that you work in can also dictate the level of your salary. For example, government clerical office workers are generally paid higher salaries compared to private sector clerical office workers. Also, segments within Industries can differ in pay. For example, although both hospital jobs and home care jobs are part of the health care industry, a nursing assistant in the hospital will generally make more than a nursing assistant in home care or in a nursing home with the same years of experience.
- Years of experience. Your years of experience do hold some weight in determining your salary when newly hired. Obviously, the more years of experience you have in a line of work, the better your chances of demanding a higher starting rate than someone with less year of experience in that same line of work. However, if you are changing careers, don’t expect to be paid the same level of pay that you did in your previous career position. Although it also depends on the career you are changing to.
- Salary of current employees. Also playing a factor in starting salaries for a new hire are the salaries of current employees in the same department that you will be entering. This is true especially for those employees that are doing the same or similar work that you will be performing. For example, if you are hired as a financial analyst, don’t expect the hiring manager to place your salary above that of other financial analysts that been with the organization for several years in that job.
- Salary of the position’s supervisor. Despite you coming into a new job with several years of experience, your starting salary, regardless of market, will never be placed above that of your supervisor’s salary. Even if you had more experience than the supervisor. Doing so, would create salary compression problems.
- Your previous or current salary. Hiring managers do give consideration to your previous or current salary when considering your starting salary for a new job. Although many times the department may have a limited range on how high of a salary it is willing to offer you based on some of the factors already discussed.
- The company salary range. The salary range of the position that you are hired into also plays a key factor in what will determine your hiring rate. Many jobs pay new hires with no years of work experience at or near the minimum of the range.
- Educational Level. Advanced education can also play a role in your hiring starting rate. If you have a MBA or PhD, you can expect a higher starting salary than someone with Bachelor’s degree.
Many times job seekers applying for positions and have little knowledge of the salary range for those jobs. They may have some assumptions but they are not based upon any valid supported information. To level the playing field so that you are better prepared to respond to the salary expectation question, again, you need to first do some research on the pay for the job.
There are some free surveys on the Internet that will help give you a ball park figure of salary for certain positions, some include: www.salary.com/, www.payscale.com/
www.rhi.com/SalaryGuides, and www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm#13-0000.
There are also several specialize salary surveys that are published by various organizations. One includes the CUPA-HR Surveys which are a group of surveys for different types of jobs in higher education. CUPA-HR Surveys can be found at www.cupahr.org/surveys/index.asp.
As with all surveys, it important to review the mythology used so that you are comparing like data. Also make sure the job descriptions is at least 50% equivalent to the job you are comparing it with.
If you cannot find reliable job survey data on the position that you are seeking, when interviewed for a job, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter or hiring manager what is the salary range of the position before responding to the salary expectation question.
Recruiters and hiring managers should know the salary range of the position they are seeking to fill and will usually tell you the range if asked. Most job seekers seldom ask for the range during an interview. Another option, if you know someone that works for the company that you are seeking employment, consider asking them what the salary range is for the job you are seeking.
Once you know the salary range of the position you can generally figure out the midpoint of the position by adding the minimum and maximum of the range and dividing by two. Companies generally hire new employees somewhere between the minimum and midpoint of the range. If they have little experience, they would be hired at or near the minimum of job range. If they have several years of experience, they can expect to be hired somewhere below the midpoint of the range. Companies generally do not hire at or above the midpoint of the range unless the market dictates it and the position you are seeking is difficult to fill or is in high demand.
Another point to take into consideration when responding to the salary expectation question is be aware that as a new hire, your salary generally won’t be reviewed for at least another year. So, whatever starting salary you receive, you’re going to have to live with it for the next 12 months. With average salary increases currently being somewhere between 2% to 3%, depending on the type of position you are seeking, it would be a safe move to ask for a salary expectation that is at least 3% or 4% above your current or previous salary. However, if you feel you deserve more, don’t be afraid to ask for more, especially if you had done your home work on market pay for the position.
The bottom line is do not sale yourself short when responding to a salary expectation question, whether such question is asked on the job application or during an interview. Weigh your years of job experience, market pay for the job, company size and industry, and the range of the position.
Who knows, the hiring manager may just surprise you with a starting salary that is several percentages higher than your quoted salary expectation!