Discussing your salary expectations

Discussing your salary expectations

Discussing your salary expectations

“So, what are your salary expectations?” You know you will be asked this question during your job search - it’s a critical piece of information for both the recruiter and hiring manager. And yet, for many, being asked this question is still enough to make you shift about uncomfortably in your seat.

You’re not alone – many candidates find discussing their salary expectations daunting. Often, this is because they aren’t clear on A. Whom will this conversation be with – is it the recruiter, the interviewer or both? B. When will they need to have this conversation – is it during the first meeting with the recruiter or the interview with an employer? C. How much money should they ask for, and how should they negotiate this figure if needs be?

To help you prepare for these conversations and confidently ask for the salary you want and deserve, we share the following:

Know your worth and priorities to determine your ideal salary before meeting with a recruiter or hiring manager. How do you put a numerical figure on your skills, experience and potential? There are a number of factors to consider here. Think about your desired job title, location, industry, company size, skills and experience level. Then consult our online salary checker to ensure your salary expectations are in line with current market rates.

Next, consider how flexible you are willing to be with this figure, taking into consideration your other key criteria for your next role, such as flexible working, bonus schemes, training courses and so forth. Some organisations may not have the resource to pay you your desired salary, mainly if they are a start-up or not-for-profit. However, they could meet your other career needs in terms of progression opportunities or work-life balance. The key is to assess your list of “must-haves” for this role and identify where salary sits on this list.

1. Work with a recruiter

Next, arrange a meeting with a recruiter who can put you forward for suitable roles. In your meeting, your recruiter will ask about your salary expectations. When they do, it’s best to be completely open and honest with them. After all, even though you have done your research, your recruiter also knows the market rate for your role and level of experience. Furthermore, they know what their clients can offer. You may be asking for too little or too much - and its best you find this out sooner rather than later.

Rest assured, the recruiter will keep salary information confidential and only disclose this to the client who will be interviewing you, which takes me to my next point.

2. Get ready to talk money during the interview

The next step in the recruitment process is to attend interviews your recruiter arranges with hiring employers. The hiring managers you meet with will be aware of your salary expectations, but very rarely will they try to discuss this directly with you in the interview. Instead, these conversations typically happen via your recruiter. However, be prepared to discuss your salary expectations in the rare chance the hiring manager raises the topic with you directly. Based on your discussions with your recruiter, go into the interview with a clear idea of your salary expectations. If they want to discuss salary further, particularly if they’re going to negotiate and lock in a figure, you can advise them to speak to your recruiter, who will negotiate on your behalf.

If you are not working with a recruiter, make sure you communicate confidence in your salary discussions by sitting up straight, making eye contact and answering simply, avoiding filler words such as “just”, “might”, “like”, and “um”. For instance, rather than saying, “I feel like I want X amount ideally, just because of Y and Z. But what do you think?” it is better to state, “I am looking for X amount”.

3. Prepare to negotiate via your recruiter

If the interviewer wants to make you an offer, they will do so via the recruiter. When you hear the request, whatever you do, don’t accept a verbal offer there and then if you are not happy with it. Talk to your recruiter about the offer and ask if there is room to negotiate. Your recruiter can negotiate on your behalf without jeopardising the offer, so ensure you fully utilise their service.

You could also give your recruiter some bargaining chips if your salary expectations are unmet. For example, you might consider flexible working or training and development opportunities.

Being clear on when and how to talk salary is essential to your career, whether when you apply for new roles or ask for a pay rise in your current one. It takes practice, but you will soon be able to confidently and assertively ask for what you deserve both now and throughout your future career journey.