Want a Higher Salary? Earn It in the Interview

September 30th, 2014 | Resume | No Comments »

Justify Your Salary

Imagine this: you’re in a job interview. You’re interested, they’re interested, and the whole thing seems like a really great opportunity. Yet there’s one aching doubt eating at your mind. At your previous job, you took a low paying job to get much needed experience. Or maybe you were overlooked for a raise several years running. Now, you want to be paid your worth, but are afraid the company will balk at your requested salary increase.

To shore up your earning power, you’ll need to justify your salary expectations in the interview.

Do You Know What You’re Worth?

Before the interview, you need to have a salary range in your mind. On top of that, it should be something you can justify. In-depth research, through websites like Salary.com, is the best way to successfully make your case.

Salary.com breaks down what you can expect to earn using several factors: your region, your skills, and your on-the-job experience. Then, it’s up to you to give yourself an honest assessment. If you are indeed trailing behind the industry average, it’s time to speak up.

What Not to Say When Asking for a Raise

Not all of your personal justifications for a salary increase will convince employers. What doesn’t work?

  • Saying you haven’t had a raise in 2 years – Two employees have worked at the same company for the same length of time. One pushed herself to her limits. The other rode out the clock with just the bare minimum. Do both deserve an equal raise? That’s why tenure alone isn’t enough.
  • Saying that your salary is below market value – Good employees should be paid what they’re worth. No one will argue against that. However, the above statement implies you feel entitled to one. Right now, you’re only telling interviewers that you deserve a higher salary. Show them your peerless work and they’ll make the right conclusions on their own.

The shortcoming of both is clear. These responses largely ignore what makes a job interview successful: carefully crafted examples that demonstrate your worth as an employee.

How to Justify Your Salary Range

Want in on a little secret? Everything you talk about during an interview can go towards justifying your salary.

All of these moments build a persona in the employer’s mind. That persona can do one of two things: justify or dismiss bringing the salary up to your desired amount.

Talking about Salary before the Interview:

Some job advertisements ask for salary requirements in your official application. It’s tricky since the hiring manager knows virtually nothing about you, but it isn’t impossible. The key is to answer the question without pigeonholing yourself.

Often, you can address this issue through the cover letter. A possible approach:

“I’m very interested in working for your company. It seems to be a perfect fit for my particular set of skills and my interests. My previous salary range has been [state salary] but I don’t have an exact dollar amount set in stone. I look forward to discussing it further upon our meeting.”

Previous salary figures give a rough estimate to the hiring manager without committing yourself to anything exact. Then, you can do all the heavy lifting to justify your salary range in the interview.

Talking about Salary during the Interview:

Though your time isn’t overabundant, an interview affords you a longer span to justify an increase in salary. Focus the interviewer’s attention on what makes you exceptional and differentiates you from your competition. Use quantitative results to make each example a strong staccato.

The discussion of salary should be a succinct summary of your previous points. Start with your salary research.

“Based on my research, positions that require this level of skill and experience in the immediate region are currently offering between [mention salary range]. Furthermore, my aptitude with [insert your top technical skills] and my previous successes with [achieving major quantifiable and/or improving upon weaknesses] bring me well within that range.”

On a Final Note:

Concise responses are more conducive to your cause. Browbeat your interviewer with talk of money, and you might curb their interest in you.

Your actions and examples should do most of the work throughout your interview and resume. That way, you simply summarize your case and bring the hiring manager closer to your way of thinking.

by James Walsh

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