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Discussing salary requirements is typically one of the most challenging and uncomfortable aspects of any interview process. When the salary question is asked, it’s not unusual for many candidates to squirm or offer a blank stare in response.

There are many variables that influence what a company has budgeted and can pay a new employee for a position. The pressure is elevated when salary is intentionally not referenced in a job description. At some point during the interview process, the dreaded question, “What are your salary requirements?” will inevitably emerge.

Never jump the gun

As a rule of thumb, never broach the subject of money or salary negotiations until you’re confident that you’re the candidate of choice or an offer has been extended. Typically, when salary is brought up in the later stages of the interview process, rest assured it’s because there is genuine interest in you and the company is seeking to determine what compensation will attract you. As a candidate, always allow the employer to raise the topic first.

If the interviewer raises the subject of salary early during the interview process, the relatively benign response – “What is your salary range for this position?” – is quite appropriate. Although somewhat evasive, it serves as a litmus test whether to pursue this particular position. Thoroughly understand what the company’s needs and expectations are before committing yourself with any salary requirements and fencing yourself in prematurely.

Perform your research in advance

Undoubtedly, salary discussions and negotiations are a delicate process. You’re reluctant to reveal your previous salary for fear of underselling yourself and leaving money on the table. Conversely, in today’s fiercely competitive job market, you have prevailing concerns about raising the bar too high for fear of excluding yourself from an opportunity by being too aggressive. As part of your due diligence, always prepare for salary discussions, which may surface at any time during the interview. A few helpful online tools to assist include, and

Consider the entire compensation package

Understand that your compensation does not include salary alone. Give serious consideration to the entire package being offered. You may be able to negotiate perks as part of your overall package. Besides salary, health insurance and 401(k), such perks may include bonuses, an expense account, extra vacation, personal time, a PC, educational reimbursement, a mobile phone and a gym membership. Don’t forget to inquire about travel requirements and other job-related activities that may have a direct impact on your total hours.

Don’t be caught with a blank stare

Salary negotiations should be thoughtfully and proactively planned with the same diligence as purchasing a car or home. When asked about your salary expectations, a safe and strategically appropriate response is – “It is negotiable.”

The preference is to take the employer’s lead before placing your cards on the table. If this option does not materialize, propose a realistic salary predicated on your prior research and financial needs and test the waters.

Lenny Keitel runs Hudson Valley Resumes in Monroe, NY, a premier nationwide Resume Writing Service with a penchant for crafting compelling resumes that motivate the hiring manager through its inspirational content, clarity, and visual appeal. Contact us for a free copy of our ‘Interview Tune-Up Guide’.

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