I will talk about how to answer that great question that is often asked at first interviews, that is asked 10, 15, 30, 60 minutes into the conversation, where they look at you so seriously and say, “so, how much are you really looking for?” Or something to that effect.
When all is said and done, you can answer that question… But I don’t think that serves you best. Let me give you two examples of ways to answer that.
Number one. You start by saying, “I’m currently earning such and such.” The reason you start that way is that for most of you, the fact is (to be clear, I’m not talking about a senior executive who is looking at a board level position or senior executive position. You’re probably not listening to this podcast anyway. You have an agent working with you who’s coordinating everything related to the search. They’re handling it for you.”, But for Average Jane and Average Joe, if you choose not to answer that question, firms will press you and will give you two choices: answer it or I will escort you out the door.
Here’s how you do it. Both of them start off by telling them how much you are currently earning. Here is variation number one: “I’m really looking for an opportunity. If you decide on the right person for you, and, Lord knows, this seems like a great opportunity for me, I am just going to ask that you make your strongest offer.” Notice how you are avoiding stating a number?
If you give a number, that becomes the benchmark. If you give a range, I know you mean the highest number and they think about the lowest level in the range. So I’m not a big fan of “the range” even though sometimes you have to get one.
Here’s the second option. Again, you tell them your current salary and continue on by saying, “We are just getting to know one another. You haven’t decided if I’m right for you and I really don’t know enough about the role, so it’s hard for me to set a price point for it so I just want to say that if this is for both of us, I’m sure we can come to a satisfactory agreement. Suffice it to say, it’s not going to be for the same amount of money that I’m making now. I will be looking for an increase but I just want to get a better feel for the job before I start talking numbers with you.”
By doing this (I happen to be a bigger fan of the second answer than the first but I don’t know your capacity for delivering these lines so I’m giving you two choices), by using a line like the second one requires confidence in yourself. It requires a degree of self-assurance. It requires the capacity to present yourself authoritatively.
Again, notice what I did. I started off by telling them how much you’re currently earning and saying, “I really don’t know enough about the job to set a price for myself. Yes, I’m looking for an increase. I’m not going to take the same money as I’m making now to do this job, but I’m looking for, ultimately, is an opportunity and I just don’t know enough about the opportunity but if both of us are interested, I’m sure we can come to an agreement.” That’s ultimately what you’re saying to them.
Do you think employers are trying to help you? You already know you can’t trust recruiters—they tell as they think you need to know to take the job they after representing so they collect their payday.
The skills needed to find a job are different yet complement the skills needed to do a job.
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter has been a career coach and recruiter for what seems like one hundred years.
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