Tactic: Introducing Salary or Should I Say Postponing the Introduction of Salary

When is the right time to talk salary?  Right after a company offers you a job.

Why?  It is when you, the candidate, have the most power.

That is one of the reasons companies do everything in their power to get you to disclose salary information from the moment you send in a resume or fill out an application.  Most job applications will ask you for your job history including the salary for each position.  You may be asked to include salary requirements in your cover letter or application. During the interview you very well may be asked what you are looking for?

The best method to handle this is to politely and professionally respond to these questions so you can hold off until the timing is right and still be considered for the job.  Let’s start with your salary requirements.  This one is fairly easy. You want to get across that you are open to a salary range.  Yet, the company might push back to get a number.

Here is a sample of how the conversation may go:

Hiring Manager: Tell me, what are you looking for in salary?

Candidate: I’m open.

Hiring Manager: Open is a bit broad. I want to make sure I’m not wasting your time or mine.  What if I can’t offer you what you need?  Can you tell me what you are making at your current job?

Candidate: You are right.  It would be terrible to waste each other’s time.  I’m open but I’m also aware of the going salary range for this position.  I’m working under the assumption that you have budgeted this salary to be competitive.

This leaves it to the hiring manager to tell you if the salary is not in the normal range for the position.  Otherwise, the two of you are now aware that you have both done your homework and will be an informed buyer and seller.

Key to this type of discussion being non-confrontational is keeping a very conversational tone.   This type of conversation can be very unnerving the first few time you have it.  Practice the conversation in the mirror or with friend.  Change the words so they sound like you.  Eliminating any uneasiness by practice will increase the casual tone of the exchange and move the conversation onto your qualifications much quicker.

The application and the cover letter don’t allow for the back and forth that an in-person meeting allows but you may need to address salary on both.  In the cover letter you can state you are “open” to salary discussions.  In the applications you need to address it a little differently since there are blank lines or boxes waiting to be filled.  Don’t let them intimidate you.  Leaving things empty can fill like they are incomplete but this is a good thing for the job application.  On the first salary fields you encounter enter “willing to discuss”, “happy to discuss”, or “ready to discuss” during the interview process.  Once again, try to use the words that fit you.

Remember, the longer you can postpone talking about salary the better positioned you will be to get a higher paycheck.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

What Salary Can You Command?

How do you know where you should fit in the salary range for your job?  What makes you worthy of the top 90% salary?  Or do you truly bring the typical traits to the job and thus should receive the median salary? Understanding your own traits, skills, experiences, accomplishments, and uniqueness will guide you to the salary that you should command.

I propose a method to make this as objective as possible by using a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.  Think of this like a Glamour Quiz …or was it Cosmo Quiz?

As you have probably guessed from my magazine quiz reference, this is not scientific but it helps to give you an impartial perspective of your capabilities.  More often than not we are either our worst critics or starry-eyed fans of ourselves.  The goal here is remove those biases.

Rate Your Education:

Let’s start with your education.  Education does impact salary potential.  The following chart on median weekly earnings from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 300% premium for people with an advanced degree compared to people without a high school degree.

So, give yourself 1 point for each move down the chart

1 = Less than High School

2 = High School Graduate

3 = Some College or Associate Degree

4 = Bachelor’s Degree

5 = Advanced Degree

Rate Your Accomplishments:

Now on to your workplace accomplishments.  I’ve organized these into 5 groups. I like to think of it as NARRC.  This is similar to the expression of NARCing except you will need to Narc on yourself.  To realize a higher salary you will need to Narc on your accomplishments. Give yourself 1 point for each category you have contributed.

  • Network – The old saw of “It’s not what you know but whom you know that matters” does have merit.  Think about who you know that would be considered high profile “gets” for your employer.  This could be a new client, a new partner, an investor, or an advisor.   Another network is your social network.  Do you have a large group of business followers, friends, connections, or blog readers?
  • Alignment – Having experience that models the company’s goals is a great plus.  Have you worked for a start-up that has gone public? Have you worked for a public company that has gone private? Experience through transition times such as these is a huge benefit to a company.  Companies do not need to be going through a transition for you to earn a point in this category.   Have you worked in a similar setting and thrived?
  • Recognition – Internal awards such as employee of the month indicate your superb capabilities.  External awards indicate your superb abilities AND allows your company to promote it and thus themselves.
  • Revenue Generation – Sales people always have a direct link to this bullet but many other employees can tie their activities to revenue as well.  First, consider if you have referred any new customers to the company.  Second, perhaps you contributed a new product idea or suggested a new market to target representative. Third, remember if you have represented the company at any event such as a conference that generated PR.
  • Cost Savings – Things you have done to create a cost savings for your employer such as negotiated better vendor contracts, developed a streamlined production process, or initiated employee social media marketing

Now count up your points and multiply that number by 10.  Estimate that you should be at that percentage in the salary range.  For example a college graduate (4 points) who had received awards (1 point) and developed a cost savings customer support process (1 point) should be earning a salary that is at the 60% mark of the salary range.

As I stated earlier, this isn’t scientific and it is not exhaustive.  I’m sure there are other categories that could be considered. Are there any that you can recommend?  I look forward to learning some other ways to consider this.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Salary Negotiation; Conflict or Game

Women tend to remove themselves from conflict while men enjoy the competitive nature of it.  That could be one of the reasons men negotiate salaries more than women.

Yet, you may be surprised to find out that you do negotiate more often than you think. Have you ever changed a person’s mind about?

  1. What movie to see
  2. Where to go to dinner
  3. When a contractor will begin/end/show up again
  4. Giving a discount because a piece of clothing or furniture had a stain
  5. Where to go for vacation
  6. Your significant other’s mind about having children or having more children

If you have then you have successfully conducted negotiations.  You may think of it as bartering, bargaining, discussing, or arguing but in the end two or more people with varied desired have come to an agreed plan.

Almost the same can be said about negotiating salaries.  The difference with salary negotiation is that a hiring manager does not have a single desired salary than you. S/he has a desired salary range.   The top figure has been budgeted but it is rare that a hiring manager would offer a job with the highest possible salary.  Getting the best candidate for a salary anywhere under that number is considered a good outcome for the hiring manager and for the company.

At the moment you are offered a job you have the power to attempt to get as high a salary as possible.  This is your most powerful time – the second the job is offered to you until the instant you accept it.  Realizing that there is room for bargaining and that you do have power is crucial to a successful and enjoyable salary negotiation.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited

Research Company Salaries Before you Accept a Job Offer

It’s hard to find out how a company actually pays employees for specific jobs. Or should I say it used to seem impossible but there is a site that can help you gauge this information.

Glassdoor.com is a free site that requires you to submit some information in order to gain amazing inside knowledge from current and previous employees.  It’s all done anonymously which may cause some misinformation but it’s more knowledge regarding salaries than we previously had.

Let’s see how you can use this information.  For this example, Fidelity is the company that has offered you a marketing manager position.  The first thing to do is to find Fidelity on GlassDoor.com.

There is salary information for more than 300 job titles.  Let’s narrow the search to marketing job titles within Fidelity.  Now you can see that one person who has been a marketing manager for Fidelity provide their salary at  $62K – $67K.  That’s a bit under the average we found for Marketing Manager’s in Salary.com in the last post. That average was $97K.   We also see that two people have posted their VP of Marketing salaries and there is a wide range,  $124K to $160K.  It’s good to know that people with the same titles are making as much as 23% difference in salary.  Could the marketing manager who accepted the $67K salary have gotten closer to the $97K median determined by Salary.com?  Probably.   Let’s see how you may investigate this more.

Now go back to view all the 300+ job titles but sort by number of reports so you can see the spread of salaries within one title.  They are fairly big spreads.

  • The Senior Software Developer who is earning $62K would get a 40% raise to catch up with the Senior Software Developer who is earning $87K.
  • The Principle Software Engineer who make $74K would need a 48% raise to earn the same $110K that another Principle Software Engineer is making.
  • A Director who earns the low end of $80K would need a 68% raise to earn $135K which other Directors are earning.
  • The VP who earns $90K needs a 100% raise to make what other VPs are making at $180.

Based on this data, I would feel very comfortable countering a job offer with a 50% increase in salary.  And if I had more data, it could go higher.   I hope this example shows you how to take 10 minutes before you accept your next job offer and see how many thousands of dollars you may be losing if you don’t negotiate your salary.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited