Featured How to Answer Some of the Most Dreaded Salary Negotiation Questions

How to Answer Some of the Most Dreaded Salary Negotiation Questions

When we think back on 2021 in the years to come, there is a good chance that we will remember it as the year everyone quit their jobs. In the last few months, the Department of Labor has reported record numbers of workers quitting their jobs. The good news is this means a lot of workers are in a better position than ever to negotiate higher pay from their next employer.

So, if you are considering quitting your current job any time soon or are just getting started, then you better get ready for the awkward salary questions that are sure to come your way.  Let’s take a look at how you can answer them and earn yourself a bigger salary.

What is your current compensation?

This is a question you should avoid as much as you possibly can, particularly if you think your current compensation is worth less than your skillset or you are applying for a job that will hold more responsibility. This question has become well known for the harmful effect it has on those who have historically been underpaid for their work.

The fact is that a hiring manager will often base their offer on the figure you give to them of what you are currently earning. This will make it extremely difficult to negotiate a really good offer, particularly if you are currently being underpaid.

Fortunately, this question has been made illegal in many states, so there is a good chance you won’t be asked this question. However, for those that aren’t so lucky, you will need a plan, and the best way to respond is to tell the recruiter that you don’t want to discuss your current salary. Instead, tell them that you want to focus on the value your skills hold now for the particular position for which you are applying. If you need to input an answer on a form, simply put $0, and the recruiter will understand.

What are your salary expectations?

This is a very common question, and with recruiters dealing with so many candidates right now, chances are you will come across it. This question is intended to weed out candidates that will simply cost too much for the company’s budget. Even so, you don’t want to risk giving a range that is below your value or for the role if it turns out to be more difficult than you expected.

So try asking to discuss more the role and its responsibilities before talking compensation, but ask if they do have a specific budget in mind they would be all right with sharing. It’s possible that they will supply you with a range that might help you to decide if there is any room for negotiation or whether it is time to look elsewhere.

I thought you approved of this range?

You wouldn’t be the first candidate to give a salary range and later realize that you sold yourself short. However, you may already have received an offer at the lowest end of what you already approved, and chances are the recruiter doesn’t sound happy to discuss paying more.

However, don’t worry too much. The recruiter is not angry at you. Instead, they are likely displeased at the thought that they have more work to get done. Push through the embarrassment and keep negotiating.

Try explaining that you truly appreciate the offer and you are excited to get started. But, since discussing the compensation, you have learned more about the position’s responsibilities and your skill’s market value and believe it warrants a higher salary. 

From here, you can expect a little wait before hearing back because modifications to the budget for a role will generally require approval from higher up. Once you do hear back, if they respond that the salary is firm, try asking for other forms of compensation such as a sign-on bonus. Sometimes recruiters or hiring managers have more flexibility with this type of compensation.

Final Thoughts

Negotiating for a salary can be one of the most stressful and awkward parts of the hiring process. But, try to keep calm and remember that recruiters and hiring managers deal with this every day. Most of all, remember not to sell yourself short.

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