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Dealing with Salary Expectations

By: Lashauna Harris

Salary can be a touchy subject to deal with in your job search. There is somewhat of a stigma associated with simply discussing it. What type of salary can you expect? Well, that seems to have become a forbidden question these days, but it really shouldn’t be.  Dealing with this detail of acquiring a job is unavoidable and the more prepared you are the easier it will be. Here a few quick tips to assist you in coming into your job search fully equipped.

Know your worth!

There will be times where you enter the last phase of the interview process and the employer looks to you to set the bar for expected salary. They will simply ask you what type of salary you require or whether or not you are aware of what the salary for that position looks like. Well just like the other questions you’ve answered that day you want to be prepared to respond. You also want to be able to support that answer. Do your research ahead of time! A great place to start is the NACE salary calculator. With this tool you can research what the average salary is for someone in your field with your education and experience. Have a figure in mind, and even if it doesn’t line up with what their offering they will appreciate the fact that you have researched the market and know what you’re worth.

Answering salary questions

Let’s be real- we all have our demands when it comes to what we can accept for salary. With limited experience to offer we have to be sure that those demands are reasonable, but there is also a way to be both firm and flexible when it comes to answering salary questions. Here are a few great responses to have in your back pocket…

  1. Give a salary range that you are aiming for. Say something like. “I am hoping to accept a salary that lies somewhere in the mid- 40’s”. It gives the employer a figure without being too specific and risking stating a salary outside of their range.
  2. Simply state that your salary requirements are negotiable. This response will show the employer that you are flexible and open to what they are offering. On the other hand, you are putting the ball in their court so be sure that you truly are open to the any salary that they may offer.
  3. If it is a company that you are really looking to work for or a position that you feel you would love and salary isn’t a factor in your decision making process, tell them so. Let the employer know what you are prepared to take a lower salary for the right position that you feel is really a great fit for you.
  4. The best way to respond to a salary question is just by giving the employer a straight answer, but leaving room for agreement. For instance, “I’ve researched the salary for this position and according to my findings; I can expect an average of $35,000. Is this in line with what you’re offering?”

When to expect salary information

Typically salary will be brought up during the second round of interviews, especially if the company is looking to move forward with the hiring process. If the employer does not mention salary at that point, it is most appropriate to wait for an offer to be made before attempting negotiation. However, once you are out into the workforce and move beyond entry level positions it is not uncommon for employers to give you salary information up front. It allows them to verify that you are on the same page in terms of pay before investing time and money into the interviewing process.

Increasing salary potential

Once you have done your research and know your worth, the next step is to increase your worth! How do you do that? It’s simple – get experience! The average salary for most entry level positions is going to be based on 1-2 years of work experience. That means that with no experience you will probably make below average. On the other hand, if you prepare early and acquire part-time jobs, internships, or even a full-time job in your field, that can increase your salary expectations. Also look into getting industry-specific certifications; they can go a long way in showing the employer that you have knowledge to apply that is beyond what you gained in your basic degree program.

The UCC is a great and FREE resource for you to utilize for researching salary. There are salary books and surveys available for use in our library. You can also use our computer lab to do research and of course the career advisors are more than willing to answer salary questions during appointments or drop- in hours. Don’t get caught without an answer when they pop the big question. Know what salary to expect, know your worth!

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