Why is money such an awkward subject to discuss when it’s something we all have in common and we all need?
In fact most people are not keen to discuss their salaries with other people including friends, colleagues and sometimes even their own family. It’s such a sensitive subject. Money can often be a catalyst for stress in relationships and for individuals, usually because there’s never enough of it! Some organisations will even add a confidentiality clause to their employment contracts making it a sackable offence to discuss or disclose salaries with colleagues.
So, when it comes to the interview process, let’s face it, nothing can be more awkward than discussing salary.
How should you handle the subject of money?
The first thing to remember when applying for any job is to research the salary first. Some organisations will be upfront on the annual salary in their adverts, or may give you a range. However, many organisations will leave it blank or just ‘competitive’. So the first rule is to do your research. There are plenty of salary surveys available on the internet and the National Careers Service is a good source of job information. You should always have a good idea about what you are worth and what the job market is paying.
Secondly, never ask about the salary at an interview. The interview process is primarily about getting more information about the job itself and for the employer to find out what skills and experience you have to offer. The interview is not about how much money you want. If you start asking about money before you know the employer really wants you, they will think you’re only interested in the money and not the job. It will give a very poor impression.
If an employer asks you about your current salary or your salary expectations try to deflect it by explaining to the employer your primary interest is to find out more about the role. Explain you are looking for a “competitive salary” or “market rate”.
Remember, the minute you start talking actual salary figures, you are entering a negotiation situation. It’s not until you are being offered the job and you know they want you, that you are in a position to start bargaining.
Just like with any purchase, you cannot negotiate the best price until you have made it clear you actually want to buy something.
The first rule of any salary negotiation is to always say thank you and to avoid going straight in with a figure. This is a big decision and it is important to take your time to reflect on it. You may want to discuss it with your family or partner so be clear on what the offer is and find out if there is any flexibility on it.
Remember, the minute you mention a salary you cannot negotiate upwards. If you go in too low, you could appear too cheap, go in too high and you could appear greedy and price yourself out of the market. Don’t sell yourself short either!
However, salary is not always about a monthly pay cheque. Sometimes organisations can offer more in the way of benefits such as gym membership, a company car, healthcare, extra holiday, flexitime, performance related bonuses etc.
Salary negotiations should be a win-win situation.
The employer needs to feel they are getting the best person for the job at a salary fitting with their organisation and other employees. You also want to feel you are being paid a fair salary for job.
Recruiting staff is a very costly and time consuming process so if an employer finds a great candidate they are not going to turn them away and start all over again because of a minor difference in salary expectations.