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How to answer the salary question?

Let’s talk about salary! But first, let’s talk about how to answer the question, “what’s your expected salary?”

Now the ‘influencers’ that have likely never hired and don’t suffer the consequence of you not landing the job will tell you to ask about the company’s budget. You can do this, but it should be in conjunction with actually answering the question about your expected salary.

However, your response to this question shouldn’t be just asking the other person the budgeted salary. Why? Because answering a question with a question comes across adversarial.

-Side bar- Whether the salary ranges should be posted or not is a different conversation all together and has nothing to do with this question.

The salary range posted online is a range and your compensation will fall somewhere in the range based on your skills and experience.

Back to answering this question, you might not know what your skills are worth! That’s okay! Here’s how you go about finding out what your skills are worth.

  • First, you'll go to Salary(.)com, hover over "For You", and select "salary wizard", then input your job title and location.

  • This will give you a baseline understanding of what your skills are worth in your location. You can also further narrow it down based on education, years of experience and such.

This is a range, you’ll compare to your current compensation. Are you being underpaid? Now you know how much your skills are really worth.

The range you just came up with is the answer to the above question. Here’s what you’ll say to the recruiter.

“Thank you for bringing that up, my expected salary for this role is XX to XY. I have a few questions about the compensation as well. Is that within the budgeted compensation for this role? What is the makeup of the total compensation structure? How is it structured?”

You see how you can still get an answer to your question without coming across adversarial?

I know that you’ve been told by all ‘thought leaders’, movies and shows that whoever gives the number first loses the negotiation. However, this isn’t supported by any data. It’s a theory that was made popular by pop-culture. The thought sounds like it should work, just like many other theories doesn’t mean it’s actually accurate or helpful.

You’re not steering the conversation by playing salary chicken, you will steer the conversation by taking ownership of your salary conversation.

In the initial conversation about salary you want to ask what components of the compensation are negotiable. Unlike what influencers will tell you, not everything is negotiable at every company. Somethings are set in stone! Ask your recruiter/HR person what are the negotiables and non-negotiables.

This is what you'll use to during your salary negotiation stage to negotiate.

Until next time,

Stay Caffeinated!

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