By Diane Turner
When you are applying for a job that does not list a specific salary you are going to need to market yourself to determine what you will earn on the job. This process is not meant to be used as a way to convince your employer to increase your salary. It is likely that the employer has determined a salary level for the position that they will not be able to deviate far from. You will be responsible for determining what salary range is reasonable and what you are worth both to the company and in the job field as a whole. This will help you set your expectations at a reasonable level and create a guide that can help you determine if the position is right for your employment needs.
Know What You Could Get Elsewhere
Before you head into a job interview, make sure you know what the position is worth. Use a salary guide to help you determine what the average person in your field makes, particularly those working in the area where you will be employed. If you are having trouble finding this information, speak to a recruiter that will have up to date figures that reflect what you should be earning. This will help you avoid selling yourself for less than you should be worth.
Also understand that your position within the company will have a distinct impact on how much you can expect to earn. If you are seeking an entry level position with little or no experience, it is likely that your salary will be below average. However, those that can bring a great deal of value or experience to the table can reasonably ask for a salary that is higher than the average and have a more reasonable expectation of getting it.
Look at the size of the firm you are applying for and understand that this will have an impact on what you can expect to earn. Smaller firms with a limited set of clients may not be able to offer a salary that is as competitive as a larger firm. Your position within the firm will also have an impact on how much you can expect to make. In general, those that are expected to take on more responsibility should expect to make more than others in the firm. If possible, speak to a human resources representative before you enter into serious negotiations so you have an idea of what salary levels already exist within the company. This will give you a better idea of what it is reasonable to expect for your own salary.
Understand that you may not be able to compare your previous salary to what you will be making at your new job. While your title may be similar, you could be taking on fewer direct responsibilities, which would make it reasonable for the company to offer you a lower salary.
Consider more Than Your Paycheck
Your salary level will be one of the most important negotiating points when accepting a job, but there is more you need to consider when you determine the value of a position. A company that cannot offer salaries that are as competitive as other businesses may use other tools to help encourage employees to give them a chance. Consider the amount of freedom you will have while on the job. This is particularly important for jobs that require creative efforts as you will need to break free from typical formulaic pursuits if you want your resume to stand out.
Consider the opportunity for career advancement that comes from accepting this position. Entry level positions that do not have high salaries can provide excellent references or connections that you can use to earn a more valuable position later. Seeking out jobs that openly state they hire from within the company to fill management or leadership roles can also be a smart way to go. Your position may have a lower salary, but if you work hard and are successful, you may be able to use this initial salary point as a stepping stone to a more valuable position later.
If you are comparing different offers, think about how different aspects of the job will affect your finances as a whole.
- Positions with a strict dress code may require you to purchase a new wardrobe
- Paid holidays and sick time can add value to your position even if you are not getting a salary that is quite as high
- Consider the type of insurance or retirement package that is included in your position and how that will affect your long-term finances
- Think of your commute and how much you will need to spend to get to and from your office each day
Any financial details that will impact how much is in your bank account at the end of the month will need to be scrutinized before accepting a job offer. You may find that a job that offers a lower salary but a more comprehensive benefits package is actually more valuable in the long run. Use a salary calculator before entering into negotiations to determine how the bonuses listed on the application should impact your final salary expectations. This information can also help you negotiate for a better position if the job is not able to offer you a more comprehensive salary. You can demand more vacation time or similar benefits to compensate for taking a salary that is slightly lower than what you can make elsewhere.
Draw Your Bottom Line and Stick to It
If you have sources that state you should be making a specific salary, you should not deviate from your goals. Your employer will certainly have an explanation for why they would like to offer you less, but you cannot allow these reasons to sway you from your goals. If you are not making enough to cover your expenses then it is not worth accepting a position. Make this very clear to your employer up front. Making sure your employer knows your expectations and your reasoning behind them will help you avoid bent feelings or miscommunication later in the negotiation period.