Talking about Salary for new job

Posted 2020/3/15

Talking about a salary for a potential new job is a task many people dread or feel ill equipped to deal with.


Researching salaries
First, you need to know the current salary range for the role. Salary surveys on recruitment websites or those published by industry or professional associations are good sources. Grads can also check with an alumni association. Be wary of salary surveys where people can enter their own pay details as they're open to abuse.


Salary surveys carried out by established recruitment firms are credible. For example, the Hays Salary Survey on is released once a year and takes months to compile involving interviews with candidates and employers. However, it is compiled once a year so we will publish any new salaries in our Employment News section (link on the left side of the home page) to help you keep up.


If you know someone doing a similar role, ask their advice on what sort of money you should be asking for. Obviously you cannot ask them what they earn. A word of warning here too. Some people are very passive when it comes to negotiating a pay rise. They accept whatever the company gives them each year, which could be zero or just CPI. This means that over a number of years, a person could start falling behind market rates. This is one of the reasons it pays to move jobs every few years even if this is just to a new position within your existing organisation. It's also the reason that negotiating the best possible starting salary is so important.


If your first interview is with a recruitment firm, you can ask the consultant what the salary range is for the job. Keep in mind that the recruiter represents the employer so they don't have to nominate a salary. Also keep in mind that the hiring manager will have a budget for the role, which means there will be a limit he or she cannot go over without seeking sign off from a more senior manager.


When to talk salary
It's better not to be the first person to raise the salary issue. Ideally, you want to see what the employer is willing to pay before you say what you are willing to accept.


The time when you will have the most negotiating power is after you have been offered the job and before you have accepted it but salary often comes up much earlier in the negotiations.


In many cases, you will be asked what sort of salary you are looking for. How you answer is a personal issue. You could stall and say, 'I would need to know a lot more detail about the role before I could answer that'. Let's face it, if the role involves having a desk near a window with a great view or having access to a subsidised gym or positive travel, then maybe you will forgo a few thousand dollars. Or the job might offer a really clear promotion path and being promoted means access to pay negotiations and more money. Pretend you have two jobs to consider. Job A pays $10k more but there is nowhere to go in the organisation so that initial $10k plus soon becomes a minus if you stay a few years as without a promotion, how are you going to justify a decent salary increase? Same goes for subsidised or fully funded training. Gaining further knowledge will add dollars to your professional bottom line.


If you're asked what you currently earn, the advice from Robert Godden of Hudson is to be honest.


"There are two reasons for this. Your salary could be verified later on revealing you as a liar or, more importantly, the salary range on offer could be so far below what you believe you are worth that to go further with the screening process would be a waste of your time," Godden said.


"You don't have to commit to a salary at the interview," Godden said. "You can say 'while I am earning x amount now, this role is more challenging and requires a more unusual combination of skills so is worth a higher salary' without saying what that higher salary should be."


If pressed, it's fine to tell the interviewer that you need time to think about the ideal salary range and then move the conversation along.


Godden warns that if you do commit to a figure at interview then there could be dangers associated with changing that figure after offer.


"You might be the best candidate at $75k but suddenly asking for $85k when offered the role, might then see you compared to a more senior crop of candidates and found wanting," he said.


"Alternatively, the fact you had asked for a specific salary and then upped the ante so much after offer may leave you looking sly or tricky."


"If you accept a job you really like but the money is not quite what you're after then it's a good idea to negotiate a pay review date at the time of offer for three to six months after you start to give you time to prove your worth," Godden said.


Check it out
Lastly, Godden advises checking the offer carefully to ensure you understand how the salary package is structured including whether the figure is base salary plus superannuation or a combination of base and super. Also, as I mentioned before, the ability to be promoted should be a big factor as well as support for education and training.


Other items to look for include mobile phones, car allowance, parking allowance. Also, if it's a sales job then what is the structure. For example, if it involves "On Target Earnings". For example, let's say a job ad mentions a salary package of $60k OTE. Part of that $60k is base salary and part is the bonus paid if a particular sales target is reached. That bonus is the "On Target Earnings" component of the package.


The package could be $40,000 base - known as $40k - and $20k bonus. Or it could be the other way around. The first thing a sales person needs to know about the job is the split between base and bonus.


Other factors include how the employer imagines the target would be met. For example, will the sales person be chasing mostly new business or can he or she also rely on resigning existing clients or selling them extra products or services? What sort of support services does the employer provide to its sales team? The candidate should also find out about the pros and cons of the "territory" they would cover as well as how the potential employer stacks up against its competitors. The candidate then needs to make an assessment of how realistic the target is and how hard it would be to meet.


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