Why is it sometimes so difficult to ask for what we want? Or what we feel we deserve? Money is one of the most common places where we get hung up in the interview process. We have no trouble selling our strengths, experience and personality. But, when it comes to the money discussion, we sometimes stumble. One of my closest friends is at the offer stage. Prior to her interview I sent her my standard preparation guide. Money is bound to come up during one of the interviews. There is a simple, elegant way to tackle this topic.
When asked what you are looking for in compensation here is the proper way to answer:
“I’m currently earning x$ base + x$ bonus. Total compensation is approximately x$. I’m very interested in this opportunity and I’m sure (insert company name here) would make me a fair offer.”
That is all. No need to say another word. As a general rule, the first person to lay down a number loses. The interview process is all about building value in yourself and developing rapport, not making demands during the process.
Nearly all potential employers understand that candidates desire an increase in compensation for making the change. By simply informing them honestly of what you are currently earning allows your hiring manager to begin to build what they believe to be a fair and attractive compensation package. You’re actually not answering the question, but rather responding with another question. Now the responsibility falls onto the hiring manger to speak first as to what they are thinking. The danger of blurting out what you think you want initially is that a number that is either too low or too high may take you out of the game prematurely or leave money on the table. Neither of which is desirable.
Are some of you cringing at the thought of not coming right out with what it is you actually want? What will happen if I don’t ask for enough? The art of compensation conversations, notice I didn’t use the word negotiation, is just that, a conversation. Often it’s a learning conversation wherein the objective is a discovery of information.
There are a few components to this conversation.
The facts: What are you currently earning? What is their budgeted compensation for this role? Does your current compensation fall within their budget? Is there any room for an increase?
Perceived value: Do you have all of the experience required for this role or do you fall somewhere in the middle. Your hiring company will likely use this logic to justify a fair offer.
Emotional: You have a number in mind of what you are hoping to achieve. Why? Is this a purely emotionally driven determination that has led you to an arbitrary figure? Rather than basing it on “I’m worth it, look to other factors that will validate your case. Why do you want this job? Is it about achieving a significantly higher compensation or is about something else that carries currency? Better culture, career opportunity, brand, product, etc.
Market value: Is your desired compensation in line with current market value and geographic location?
Risk: Are you leaving a job with security? Are you moving your family across the country?
Once you’ve considered all of the factors weighed on both sides you can begin to develop an intelligent rationale as to how you have arrived at your target number. Being clear, concise and honest about the why will likely get you a lot closer to your desired compensation as opposed to coming in hot with a number straight out of the gate. By doing so, you’ll likely back your hiring company into a corner from which there is little room for discussion. Not to mention damaging rapport.
Building a case for an offer is not a game, it’s an open and honest conversation involving both sides of the interview desk.
Photo Credit: Huffington Post