How much are you worth?
Don’t act surprised by this question—it is one you have likely contemplated each day when you walk into your place of work. It is also a question you are going to have answer to your human resources department or a recruiter when you are negotiating your salary.
Surprisingly enough, most job seekers do not know the answer to this question when they are put on the spot. Despite numerous resources available at no charge on the internet, job seekers struggle when they are asked this question, and it could be costing them—both financially and reputation wise—when they are seeking a raise or looking to negotiate salary with a new company.
To find out just how common of an occurrence this is, we recently spoke to a member of the recruiting industry who asked to remain anonymous for the sake of the company and candidates he/she works with. This recruiter detailed a recent scenario that he/she says happens all the time for us below.
“Recently, I had an applicant reach out to me about a position I am hiring for. He seemed like a good fit for the company, so I asked what salary range he wanted to be in and he gave me the strangest answer,” stated the recruiter. The recruiter shared from his applicant, “That is a question that I have wondered, as I always leave it up to negotiation. But my criteria would be to live comfortably.”
The expression on the recruiter’s face was priceless when he shared this story with me. He had given the applicant an opportunity to say exactly how much he wanted to earn, instead the applicant gave him nothing to go back to the client with. Frustrated, the recruiter said, “This is something you should write about in your next blog post.”
So, here we are.
When it comes to negotiating salary, it seems job seekers are caught in the “great in between.” On one side of things, they want to make it worth their while if they are leaving a company, but on the other side they do not want to come off as asking for too much and not have a chance to interview and prove to the recruiter/hiring manager their worth.
This presents a problem for job seekers and hiring managers, which is why I have put together three recommendations when it comes to salary negotiations for job seekers this week.
Always know your worth
This seems like it would be common knowledge, but as detailed above most job seekers are not coming to the table with an understanding of how much to ask for. To help out, you need to determine what situation you are in.
If you are a current employee at a company looking to ask for a raise after a great year and standout performance, most in the industry suggest that companies budget five percent to give their employees as a raise, but actually give them two to three percent unless they ask for more. My suggestion? Do not go too crazy and ask for a 20 percent bump, but asking for 7.5 to 10 percent does not seem unreasonable—especially if your efforts directly correlated to large revenue gains.
On the other side, if you are considering leaving a current job for a new one you need to do a little bit more work. Research the national averages for your industry and then compare them to the region you are working in. If you have to move, factor in moving costs and expenses into your decision as well.
Before you come up with a number, it is also suggested you look at the entire package being offered. If your previous employer offered a 401k and your new employer does not, that needs to be factored in, as well as relocation, profit sharing or any other benefits you were receiving or were not receiving.
Support the sale
An article from the television show “Shark Tank” a few years back broke this down the best way possible. Barbara Corcoran (one of the Sharks) said, “You’ve got to remember that asking for a raise is a sales job. It’s not about if you deserve the raise, really. It’s how well-prepared you are, how you list your responsibilities. You should even have a category called ‘above and beyond’ on responsibilities and make sure the boss knows every little thing you’re doing above and beyond. You know what, you’ve got to sell! It’s about selling.”
While this is specifically geared to those asking for a raise, it has merit toward someone discussing salary with a recruiter or hiring manager. When discussing your asking salary, support it with facts. Show them the criteria you meet for the position they are hiring for, then tell them about how you plan on elevating their company to the next level. Sell yourself!
Be confident in your ask
Going back to the recruiting example above, the inability of the applicant to convey his ask to the recruiter can be interpreted in quite a few ways, one of them being a lack of confidence. If you as an applicant are not confident enough to say “this is how much I want and why I deserve it” when you are asked that question by a hiring manager or recruiter, how are you going to respond in their work setting? What happens when a client asks you to justify the price you are asking for whatever it is you are selling?
These questions and more are going to go through the head of the person who is tasked with recommending you for a job in their company when you are not confident enough to ask for a specific number in your salary discussions. Step up to the plate and be confident.
When it comes to salary discussions, many job seekers seem to think providing a number is frowned upon by employers and potential employers. However, that could not be further from the truth.
Knowing your worth, selling yourself properly and having confidence in your salary negotiations approach all go a long way in getting what you feel you deserve. So take the advice above from those in the industry, and prepare yourself to the best of your abilities for your next salary negotiation.