June 29, 2010
With jobs scarce and job-seekers more desperate, HR directors are ratcheting up the pressure when negotiating salaries for potential hires. But experts note that qualified applicants have more leverage than they often believe--and they should use it to their advantage.
One tactic that employers use is insisting that job candidates name their salary requirements, while they refuse to discuss the range that they expect to pay. "And yet they do have a budgeted range," writes Alison Green for US News & World Report. "They're just hoping to lowball the candidate, and candidates know this. Employers shouldn't demand salary requirements from candidates if they're not willing to share the range they plan to pay, too."
If faced with this situation, career experts stress that job candidates should never give out the first number. According to New York-based executive coach Rabia de Lande Long, who was interviewed in The Wall Street Journal, doing so could either eliminate you from the next stage if your answer is too high, or make you appear desperate or unqualified if your answer is too low. She noted that job candidates should be sure to check out resources such as Salary.com and Payscale.com.
Employers may also pressure job candidates to reveal their salary history. "You don't have to reveal your salary information," noted Ramit Sethi, author of "I Will Teach You to Be Rich," who was quoted by The New York Times. "You're under no obligation to reveal it at all."
Sethi recommended writing "NA" on any applications that ask for current or old salary information. He told the Times that if a recruiter asks the same question, respond with, "I'm sure we'll find a number that works for both of us, but for now, I want to make sure it's a good fit," or "I'm really not comfortable with revealing that information, but I am interested in discussing some of the other ways I can help the company."
If all else fails, another option is to give a "total compensation" figure, which includes salary, benefits, bonuses and perks. According to Walter Akana, a career coach from Georgia who was interviewed by the Journal, doing so will let the HR manager know that a new salary would have to compensate for any lost benefits.
But never lie. "It's so easy to get someone in HR to verify a salary, even if they're not supposed to," said de Lande Long in the Journal. "And from that point onward, you might face trouble in negotiations not just with your new employer, but with everyone in your industry who has heard. Word gets around."
Compiled by Yaffa Klugerman
"How to Get the Salary You Want," wsj.com, June 27, 2010, Joe Light
"Job Seekers' Top 5 Complaints About Employers," USNews.com, June 21, 2010, Alison Green
"On Refusing to Disclose Your Salary in a Job Interview," nytimes.com, June 17, 2010, Jennifer Saranow Schultz