“Know your worth.”
That’s the advice from Seek career coach Leah Lambart following research by the company that shows 46 per cent of 334 jobseekers surveyed rarely or never brought up salary expectations during a job interview.
Seek’s research from the survey revealed that 58 per cent of Kiwi jobseekers considered it important to know the pay level before they applied for a role. Some of the reasons for them doing so included avoiding disappointing income surprises (50 per cent), saving time and effort (46 per cent) and assessing the financial fit correctly (38 per cent).
“In my experience, this often stems from how we’ve been raised as children with the belief that it isn’t polite to ask about salary or for more money. There can be an underlying concern that it seems greedy to focus on salary more than other aspects of the role, and could potentially turn an employer off continuing further discussions.
“But, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to know your worth and raise the topic of salary during the interview process if you get the timing and approach right.”
Lambart said once an offer had been made, it could be difficult for an employer to negotiate if key stakeholders had already approved it.
Recruiters might discuss salary earlier in the process - to make sure “everyone’s on the same page”, she said.
“To help land a role with your right salary fit, jobseekers need to arm themselves with industry research, be able to clearly articulate the value that they can offer to the business, and be prepared to negotiate if they don’t get an offer in their ideal salary range.”
However, it can be common for interviewers to put the negotiations back onto the jobseeker, so be prepared for a situation where they state a salary range rather than an actual figure.
“An example of what you could ask would be: ‘What would a person with my background and qualifications typically earn in this position with your company?’”
LOVE HR founder Stephanie Love believed salary should be discussed during a brief phone interview or as part of the initial screening process.
She did not recommend waiting until a formal interview as it might be determined by that time.
“When it is non-negotiable for one of the parties ... it is a waste of time to get to that stage without discussing it in advance.”
Love agreed it could feel uncomfortable discussing pay.
“I would encourage people to work through this discomfort and get more comfortable with it to avoid disappointment and wasted time later on in the recruitment process. Set expectations upfront.”
Most salary ranges were market-based rather than a “secret, sophisticated formula”.
“I’d recommend doing your research to know the market for a position at the beginning of the recruitment process to understand whether it is in alignment with what you’re looking for.”
OneStaff area manager Nathan Lewis said generally an employer would ask a potential employee near the end of an interview if they had any questions and this was the time to ask about the salary.
“I’d suggest to ask about the salary on your second or third question. Most employers would expect the salary question to be asked.”
He said it was always good form to stay positive in an interview even if the salary the employer was offering was lower than expected.
“You never know after an interview, the employer could be very interested in making you an offer and could move the salary up higher than stated in the initial interview.”
Ian Scott, general manager for talent solutions at recruitment agency Randstad New Zealand, last month told NZME its data shows if employers put a pay scale on job advertisements they’ll get a higher number and a higher quality of respondents.
Tips to navigate the salary conversation
- Do your research before the interview: Know your worth in the market. Use resources like Seek’s Advertised Salary Index and gather information by speaking with industry connections for insights.
- Be prepared to negotiate: To kick off negotiations, you should know your baseline salary. IBuild a compelling case. Your argument should always be based on a clear business reason - such as what value you can add to the business, the problems that you can solve or the revenue you can generate.
- What not to do: Avoid negotiating based on personal reasons such as “I need X much to pay my mortgage”. Try to keep the emotion out of the negotiations, instead reinforce what skills, experience and value you can bring to their team.
- Be realistic: The degree to which you can negotiate can vary depending on the role and experience required. The power to negotiate often comes with having specific expertise, industry knowledge or connections the organisation wants. If they really want you they’ll often be prepared to negotiate.
What to do if the salary is lower than expected
- Demonstrate flexibility: Making a strong case is important, but so too is demonstrating that you are flexible and keen to work collaboratively to reach a win-win solution. In some cases, hiring managers have no room to move with salary but may be able to make allowances in other ways.
- Consider additional benefits: This could include flexible hours, a work-from-home stipend to help you set up your home office, additional unpaid leave, relocation costs, continuing education costs or a different start date to allow for a holiday before starting.
Source: Leah Lambart