The Dreaded Salary Requirement Conundrum

Anita,

Why don’t employers put the pay rate or salary in their job postings? It would sure save everyone on both sides a lot of time. I never know what to put when the ad says to include your salary requirements. I don’t want to ask for way too much and blow my chance to even get an interview. But if they pay more than I am used to, I don’t want to cheat myself either. What do you suggest?

Dear, Waging War,

Many employers choose not to list salary ranges. Candidates will almost always negotiate for the high end of the range and if they don’t get the max, they may end up with lingering resentment. Another consideration for large employers hiring nationwide is the wide discrepancy in costs of living. A yearly salary of $50K in San Francisco won’t provide much buying power, but the same salary in a Detroit suburb may provide a middle class lifestyle.

If salary requirements are requested in a job posting, be sure to comply or risk looking like an applicant who can’t follow instructions or does not pay attention to detail. But, just like you shouldn’t bring up salary at the beginning of the interview process, wait until after you sell yourself in the cover letter. Then, include a salary range instead of just one number. Remember, this is a negotiation, not a demand. If you really won’t accept less than say $40,000, state your salary range is between $41,000-$46,000. (I prefer non-rounded numbers; it sounds like you really figured out what you’re worth and what you need to cover your expenses. And you did research comparable positions on Salary.com, Payscale.com, or Glassdoor, right?)

You may be able to avoid giving a number with a phrase such as, “My salary requirements are negotiable based on the position and the total compensation offered, including benefits.” Remember when negotiating that perks such as holidays/vacation time/PTO, flex-time, company-paid professional development opportunities or even bringing your dog to work can make a job offer more attractive than salary alone.

The salary discussion is always fraught with tension, but look at it this way: If you really need a certain wage, why waste time interviewing for a position that won’t even pay the bills?

Readers: Do you have a strategy for the salary requirement question on a job application or during an interview?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
Salary Negotiation Mistakes
Truth about Salary

2014’s Top 10 Posts

Dear, Readers,

Many businesses conduct annual performance reviews. Why should I be exempt? (Gee, I’m as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.)

I took a moment to reexamine the questions asked and answered in 2014 to assess readership, analyze traffic, identify employment trends, and see which posts merit a second look.

Adult male adjusting necktie.And the most viewed articles of 2014, in order of popularity, are (drumroll, please)…

#1: Tattoos & Interviews
Before you spend that crisp $10 bill your Granny taped inside your Christmas card on skin art, read up on why tattoos could limit your career path.

#2: Applying for a Job When Not 100% Qualified
How many times have you read through an online job posting thinking I’m perfect for this… until you come to one or two bullet points that you don’t possess? See when to apply and when to not waste your time.

Woman with "Hired" Sign#3: Explaining Away “You’re Fired”
Should you include an employer from which you were fired (ahem, “relieved of your duties”) on applications and résumés? There’s no black and white answer.

#4: Top 10 Interview Fails
Top 10 lists must work; you’re reading one now! Read about interview faux pas and make a resolution to avoid committing even one of them at your next interview.

#5: How to Find Jobs Not Advertised on the Top Job Boards, Part 1
Think beyond CareerBuilder and Monster.com when it comes to searching for employment opportunities. Why Part 2 didn’t also make the top 10 list is a mystery. I suggest reading both.

Team Player#6: Top 10 Attitudes Employers Should Look For
While written in response to a question from a manager, job seekers can use this insight to make sure they convey these attributes in their résumé and cover letter and during interviews.

#7:  10 Commandments to Avoid Email Miscommunications: Tablet 1
Communication is 7% words, 38% tone of voice, and 55% body language. Since a whopping 93% of nonverbal cues are missing in emails, it’s no wonder there are so many misunderstandings! Use the tips in this post (and the rest in Tablet 2) to prevent slipups.

#8: No Payroll Deductions
Being paid under the table? Not receiving an itemized paycheck stub? Learn what’s legal and what’s not.Raising_Hand

#9: Salary Negotiation Mistakes
Avoid these 10 mistakes while asking for a raise or negotiating a starting salary.

#10: Applying to Internal Position
Here is advice on deciding if you want to move up (or laterally) within your company, and how to negotiate this potentially tricky scenario.

Readers: What was your favorite Anita Clew article this year?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita. Your question might make next year’s Top 10 list!

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

Salary Negotiation Mistakes

Dear, Anita,

I think I may have blown it when asking for a raise. I thought it would be best to email my boss and outline my financial situation (I recently incurred huge medical bills for my son). I was also talking with a friend about what his company pays for my position, which is more than I make, so I mentioned that, too. My boss called me into his office and turned me down. What did I do wrong?

Raising_HandDear, Raising Eyebrows,

Recently, a bank employee emailed his CEO asking for a $10,000 raise and CC’d about 200,000 of his coworkers. See the full story here. I would not recommend this tactic.

Here are 10 salary negotiation mistakes employees make when asking for a raise. Since I don’t know your entire situation, I can only guess that you made a few of these errors.

  1. Bad timing. Don’t make your request after you’ve made a major mistake, such as losing a big client, or bungling a manager’s travel arrangements. Making a raise request during budget cuts won’t get you far. Keep your ear to the ground, and know what’s going on within your company.
  2. Requesting a raise via email. You can request a meeting by email, but it’s best to have delicate salary discussions face-to-face. You can better gauge body language and adapt your presentation to the reactions you experience.
  3. Citing personal reasons. Asking for more money because of medical bills is not a compelling reason for your boss to give you a raise. While he may be sympathetic, your compensation is based on your value to the company, not the stack of bills on your dining room table.
  4. Complaining versus explaining. While your workload may have increased, be sure you are not whining about it when asking for an increase in salary to go along with your additional responsibilities.
  5. Throwing coworkers under the bus. Whether Sandra in the next cubicle told you her salary, or John is not doing his fair share of the work assignments, now is not the time to bring it up.
  6. Money_Steps_iStock_000014098920_SmallUnreliable facts. Water-cooler gossip and cocktail party chats may not be the most dependable source of salary information. Check out average salaries for similar positions in your area at Salary.com. But use this information in a non-confrontational way.
  7. Acting entitled. Years at the company alone, or the fact that you have a family, does not give you claim to a pay raise.
  8. Stating a specific number. If push comes to shove, state a range, preferably in percentages rather than dollars. Give your supervisor some wiggle room.
  9. Threatening.  If you issue ultimatums – “If I don’t get a raise, I’ll walk” – you may find yourself walking to the unemployment office.
  10. Holding a grudge. If you are turned down for a raise, continue to do your best work. Ask your supervisor what steps you can take in the upcoming months or year to warrant a pay increase.

Readers: What are some successful tactics that have earned you a requested raise?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

Subscribe to receive weekly emails with career tips and advice for job seekers, employed people, and managers and supervisors.

RELATED POSTS:
I Resolve… to Get a Raise
Achieving the Annual Raise
Transparent Salaries: From Hourly Employees to the CEO

I Resolve… to Get a Raise

Dear, Anita,

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be better with money. I even made a budget, which I’ve never done before. But now I see that I really need to make more money. I’m gathering up my courage to ask my boss for a raise. What is the best way?

Dear, Going for the Gold,

Getting a raise is a common work-related resolution. Even though the pundits tell us we are out of the recession, gone are the days when an annual raise is a foregone conclusion. First, does your company conduct an annual performance reviews? You may not even have a chance of a raise until your official review rolls around. If your company does not have an annual review system, be sensitive to the timing when asking for a pay increase. If your company has had a setback or is in the midst of a struggle of some type, you may want to wait until the skies have cleared to ask for more money.

Should You Ask for a Raise? Prepare Your Case. If your annual performance review is coming up, don’t just go in to passively listen to your supervisor’s evaluation. Prepare some talking points ahead of time. List your accomplishments for the year: What challenge did you overcome? What big project did you finish successfully? How have you contributed to your company’s bottom line? What are your unique strengths?

Walk the Walk. You can’t just talk the talk; you have to walk the walk – every day, not just the two weeks prior to your raise request. (Do you really think the cop doesn’t know you are speeding when you brake suddenly after you spot him?) Be punctual … every day. Do your best work… every day. Have a great attitude… every day.  Even if your performance evaluation is months away, start laying the groundwork now.

Increase your Value. Just doing what you were hired to do by rote is often not enough to get the raise you want.  You must complete your tasks with excellence, and for a larger raise, with that little something extra. You may need to take on additional duties to warrant a raise. Or, you can increase your value to the company by suggesting cost-cutting measures or ways to boost sales and revenue. If your review isn’t for many months, there is time to learn a new skill or prepare that proposal outlining your big ideas.

Know Your Worth. While discussing salaries with co-workers is generally frowned upon, you will want to do some research about the going pay rate for your position. Check out online resources, such as Indeed.com’s Salary Search or Payscale.com. Instead of asking your boss for a specific dollar amount, suggest a range. And don’t be surprised if you don’t get an answer on the spot. Your supervisor may need to crunch some numbers or get approval from higher management. Do try to get a sense of the timeframe for a final resolution before leaving your meeting.

Alternatives to Raises. If your raise request is initially met with a “no,” think outside the box when it comes to salary negotiation. Could you work at home one day a week, and save childcare costs? Even at the same pay rate, that amounts to increased dollars in your wallet. Would your company be willing to offer you a one-time bonus for a special project? Are they willing to pay for your continuing education, which will benefit you in your current position as well as in jobs to come?

The best way to get a raise is to make yourself invaluable, and make your boss look good to their clients or supervisors. My past blog, Achieving the Annual Raise, gives further tips for increasing your earning power.

Readers: What has been your most successful strategy to get the pay raise you asked for?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

Want to receive these tips by email? Simply subscribe for once-a-week advice for career success!

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
%d bloggers like this: