It can be daunting setting your salary expectations when going for a new job, but Hays’ Amanda Whicher has some advice to make it easier.

Money is always a tricky subject but when it comes to getting a new job, a conversation about salary is critical.

A lot of roles will offer a salary range, leaving the candidate to figure out where they should pitch themselves within that bracket, while other job ads leave the salary out entirely.

So, how can jobseekers ensure they don’t undersell themselves or pick a figure that’s way beyond the company’s budget?

Be upfront about your expectations

Hays’ Amanda Whicher said it’s important to be honest and upfront about what your salary expectations. “There’s nothing worse either from a recruiters’ perspective or from a hiring managers perspective than when you go in for an interview, you’re amazing, they want to offer you the job, and then your expectations are €20,000 different from what their expectations were,” she said.

“It’s really important for all parties involved, to have that open, honest, upfront conversation from the outset of the process so that there’s that clarity there. You don’t want it to be a dream job and then they can’t afford you.

Why are salaries not always disclosed?

A salary range, even a wide one, will usually help you cross off those jobs that are lower than your expectations but not all jobs have ranges, with some simply listing the salary as “competitive” or not mentioning it at all.

Whicher said there could be a number of reasons why a company may not disclose the salary. “It might be that they’re trying to manage a situation internally that’s prohibiting them from releasing that salary,” she said.

“Or it might be that their salary band that they’ve got an offer isn’t aligned with the market, and they know they’re not going to get the quality candidate and so therefore, they put it as competitive because they are keen to see what the candidates’ salary expectations are.”

No matter what the reason, it can be understandably frustrating and may even put candidates off but her advice to those who come across a really enticing job with missing salary details is to get in touch with the company and try and get that information.

Know your value

When it comes to actually fighting for a particular number or deciding what you want from a job, a good place to start is the job description to see how much your skills align with the ad.

However, Whicher added a caveat to this. “A job description often has a whole heap of things that a client wants and is the ideal candidate, but quite often that candidate doesn’t really exist in the open market because people are people and they’re not a piece of paper.”

With that in mind, a jobseeker can still assess what they believe to be the most important skills needed for the job, weigh up how much experience they have in those areas and consider any additional desirable skills they have listed.

Candidates should also think about the other skills and achievements they have that may not be listed in the ad but could be used to further ad value and justify a higher salary. Whicher also advised that jobseekers do their research about the market using a salary guide and know what similar jobs are paying.

Know the full benefits package

While the annual wage is usually what we think of when we talk about negotiating salary, It’s important to remember not to discount other benefits that make up a total package.

“If someone’s offering you 35 days’ holidays versus 25 days’ holiday, the monetary value that actually gives you is far greater than people realise,” said Whicher.

She said it’s important that candidates don’t price themselves out a job that might have a slightly lower monetary salary than another role but makes up for that in a lot of different other benefits such as pension contributions or healthcare.

Make yourself stand out

While figuring out where you fall on the salary scale might start with the skills you have on your CV, Whicher warned that the real place to show your value is still in the actual interview. “The way that you perform interview will have a direct correlation potentially to the salary that you’re offered,” she said.

“Doing research into the organisation is really important, both the application and also interview stage and being able to align yourself with the behaviours of the organisation. What’s important to that organisation, what are their values, what are their drivers? And if you’re able to articulate how well you align with them as an organisation, that will also increase the probability of you getting offered a slightly increased salary versus another candidate who has very similar skills, but maybe hasn’t taken that time.”

A final word of advice from Whicher was to avoid moving the goalposts once you have been upfront about your expectations – adding that it can leave a real sour taste for an organisation when parameters have been clear and candidates attempt to renegotiate later.

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