I disclose salary requirements?
should I do when a prospective employer asks for salary requirements
or salary history in the resume or cover letter?
Defer and delay.
Never be the first to say a number.
Employers will go
to great lengths to try to get candidates to disclose their salary
requirements first. As the buyer of a service - your time - they
are trying to bring down the price they will pay by talking about
numbers prematurely and by getting you to give up information first.
This puts them at a significant advantage in the subsequent negotiation.
Every employer with
a job opening has a budgeted range for that job. Some employers
have a more sophisticated understanding than others about how much
a job should pay, but regardless, they have a sense of what they
will and will not pay for each job. That's the range, and they know
If you say a number
first and are at the low end, it's bad for you in several ways.
First, if you get the job, you're not going to get paid what the
job is worth. Second, if you get the job, the employer might change
the job description and give you less responsibility. Third, if
you say a number that's too low, you could signal that your work
is of lower quality than the job requires. And fourth, this disappointing
negotiation could set the tone for your relationship with this employer.
If they got the better of you at the beginning, they might do so
again and again.
It's also bad if
you go first and your number is too high. If you put a high number
in your cover letter, you might not even get the interview. If you
get the interview, the prospective employer will start from a position
of sticker shock and will focus on ways to bring the number down
rather than on the skills and experience you bring to the job. You
will be hard pressed to get them to think of you as a rare find.
You should defer
the conversation about money as long as possible. The longer you
delay, the more time you can spend making the prospective employer
believe you are the dream candidate whom they need to hire regardless
of what it will cost. When it's time to talk about numbers, it should
mean the company is about to offer you the job.
Many people believe
they've got to be obedient and nice with prospective employers.
When a prospective employer asks for something, many people figure
they should give it. But with salary information, you don't get
points for being nice.
If the ad says you
have to put salary in your cover letter, don't answer the ad, or
answer it without the salary information. Each time the employer
asks you for your salary history or requirements, say you want to
be paid the fair market value of the job. If they say they need
to know what you're making now, respond that you don't see how it's
relevant. If they want to talk about money before they even interview
you, ask how you could possibly put a value on a job you haven't
talked about yet. Don't be surprised if they ask repeatedly and
apply continued pressure.
The bottom line about
the bottom line is, if the job is right for you and you're right
for the job, there is a fair salary range for the job that represents
good-faith negotiation by both you and your employer. The salary
negotiation sets the tone for how the employer will treat you in
the future. If you set a precedent of undervaluing yourself or letting
the employer take the upper hand, chances are that's the type of
relationship you'll continue to have with the company. If, on the
other hand, you remain professional and courteous yet firm about
the salary conversation, you stand to create an impression that
you are a valuable candidate who deserves to be treated fairly.
For more information
and tips on the salary negotiation, see the Salary.com
Erisa Ojimba, Certified Compensation Professional