Author Topic: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!  (Read 3677 times)

StiffUpperLip

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Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« on: June 13, 2017, 09:06:32 AM »
I put in an application for a new job, and first contact from company is asking for current salary and salary expectations "to ensure we are aligned" before my application will be forwarded to the hiring manager...

I wasn't expecting this question so early in the process, and expected when it came it would be as part of a conversation rather than a pre-emptive email...

Is this a good sign?
What should my response be?

There is a phone number listed so I suppose I could call to see if I can get a reading?

Please help! I have worked for the same company for 10 years so am out of practice will all these delicate application issues...

StiffUpperLip

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2017, 09:10:54 AM »
For context, I work in an industry and niche with very little in the way of benchmarking info available for salary comparison.

I would be moving closer to family so less stress, better quality of life and lower childcare costs... so many positives... but to a higher cost of living area and taking on greater responsibility so should expect more than current, but I also know my current salary and benefits are generous.

Scortius

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2017, 11:14:53 AM »
"I'm very glad to hear back from you and look forward to the full application process.  When it comes to expectations I would prefer to discuss my potential salary based on what is available to someone with my level of experience and skill along with the value I plan on bringing to the company. "

If they really need a number to proceed:

"With that in mind, I am currently looking at jobs that offer $XXX along with a full benefits package."

Where $XXX is what you want + 25 to 50 percent.  It would help to do a quick scan of available jobs at other companies, along with checking out salary information at glassdoor or something similar.

MayDay

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2017, 11:16:51 AM »
Read the ask a manager response.

Iirc she says to fill in what you want to make, and more that you did not share your current salary as that is confidential, bit you are looking for jobs in XYZ range.

Fishindude

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2017, 11:25:14 AM »
I would answer with a "minimum" number that I would need to take the job, followed by a "range" where I would expect to be once I've proven I can do the job.

 

Johnez

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2017, 01:07:08 PM »
It's too bad you're in your niche industry. This sort of crap drives me nuts. It wastes everyone's time and seems dishonest. Reminds me of stores or restaurants that don't post prices forcing you to ask. If it were me I'd tell em to piss off and try a less wasteful tactic.

Lady SA

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2017, 01:49:14 PM »
I second seeing if you can check out glassdoor for similar salaries in the field, get a feel for what is appropriate. After being at the same company for 10 years and getting the normal 2-4% increase, you may be significantly behind the curve salary wise. Depends on your industry and title. In software, job hopping routinely results in 30-50% salary bumps. Companies would kill to hire you at your current salary lol

Now if your industry isn't that ridiculous, you can still get a relatively good idea of how much you are worth.

I suggest keeping the info back. Companies like to fish for that information to have a starting point for negotiation. Give yourself the upper hand and negotiate for where you want to be, not defensively from where you are.
I'll give you a realworld example. My DH was looking for a new job because his current one was wearing on him. He got serious bites from the 2 places he was considering. The first one asked DH his current salary, and being trusting, he gave it to them. After me chewing him out, he didn't give the second company his current number even after they asked.
The first company came back at 5k over his original salary and refused to budge, since they knew that anything over that number was "good enough" and he didn't have much ammunition to negotiate further.
The second company offered straight out at 25k over his original salary, and he managed to eke out an additional 7k on top of that, because the company was blind to what his actual position was.

Guess which company now enjoys his services.
Companies will offer you what they think you are worth, but if they think they can get someone talented for cheaper, they will pounce on it. That's just good business sense--you want to pay people the least amount possible but still be competitive to attract talent. If someone comes along and doesn't realize how much they are worth, all companies can see is $$$ in their pockets.

edit: I would suggest answering the question with an answer to the question you *wish* they asked: "what is the salary range you are looking for?"
This is what my DH did with the second company. When they asked for his current salary, he sidestepped and said:
"Well, I'm looking for opportunities in the ABC-XYZ range, along with benefits. Thanks."

That gives them a number. The fact that it isnt your current number is not their concern.

edit again: or avoid the question all together. I would personally call and tell them that you would prefer to negotiate salary later in the interview process. If they are pushy, tell them that you can get a range of expected salary after some research. Then they might back down and allow that part to stay blank, or if they still want some number, go ahead and do said research and come back with that appropriate salary range that you think you are worth based on your experience, industry, etc.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2017, 02:00:12 PM by LadyLB »

frugaliknowit

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 02:15:10 PM »
It's too bad you're in your niche industry. This sort of crap drives me nuts. It wastes everyone's time and seems dishonest. Reminds me of stores or restaurants that don't post prices forcing you to ask. If it were me I'd tell em to piss off and try a less wasteful tactic.
+1

This tactic has become illegal in Mass., and I believe another state...

You have NOTHING TO GAIN by disclosing your salary...especially if it's siginificantly higher than they want to pay...if it's much lower than they want to pay, they'll either think you're a low performer and not want you or they will use it against you and "lowball you".

If you are going to participate in this conversation, it's
best that you have an idea of the market value of the job, then say something like:  "My target salary is between $X and $Y...Is that compatible your budget?"

StiffUpperLip

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 02:19:35 PM »
Thanks for all the fab advice. There was no salary indication on any of the job postings and no request for this info as part of the application process, so I suppose I feel a bit put out that I've spent time on applying without knowing if they're a fit money-wise but they're not willing to spend any energy on a discussion without knowing my expectations first...

The email basically indicated that ive been shortlisted but this info is required up front, otherwise my application is not going to be forwarded to the hiring manager!?!

I would need at least my current salary to afford a move and would hope for 10-20k more based on job title / responsibility, I suppose I'm nervous of pricing myself out of the market before I even get started...

I'm debating eiher calling and trying some non-money answers like I'd try at interview, or emailing a no-numbers response similar to that suggested by @Scortius and seeing if they push for a number.. .

StiffUpperLip

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 02:25:11 PM »
It really would depend on the overall package as my current employer is generous regarding leave especially and also pension-wise...

Also, should I be including my bonuses in my current salary if I do end up giving a number?

neo von retorch

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 02:38:29 PM »
It really would depend on the overall package as my current employer is generous regarding leave especially and also pension-wise...

Also, should I be including my bonuses in my current salary if I do end up giving a number?

They are asking you to name a number first because it'll give them an easy bar to cross. They know you're "leaving a job" - you'll probably accept 5-10% more than you're making now.

Let's say they have a budget of $60-80k for this job. And you make $55k now. Once they know that.... they will offer $60k. Maybe negotiate up a little from there.

On other hand, if they don't know what you're making, once you're at the point that they are making an offer, they'll "want" you and it will push them to offer "enough" to get you to make a move. So they might start at $75k to seal the deal.

So if you absolutely feel that you must offer a number, I'd go with "total compensation" instead. All the health insurance premiums, reimbursements, bonuses and sugar packets you can cram into that figure. Anything that gives you a number more like $65k+ that they have to beat... so they start their offer at $70k or higher.

JLee

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2017, 11:04:12 PM »
It really would depend on the overall package as my current employer is generous regarding leave especially and also pension-wise...

Also, should I be including my bonuses in my current salary if I do end up giving a number?

They are asking you to name a number first because it'll give them an easy bar to cross. They know you're "leaving a job" - you'll probably accept 5-10% more than you're making now.

Let's say they have a budget of $60-80k for this job. And you make $55k now. Once they know that.... they will offer $60k. Maybe negotiate up a little from there.

On other hand, if they don't know what you're making, once you're at the point that they are making an offer, they'll "want" you and it will push them to offer "enough" to get you to make a move. So they might start at $75k to seal the deal.

So if you absolutely feel that you must offer a number, I'd go with "total compensation" instead. All the health insurance premiums, reimbursements, bonuses and sugar packets you can cram into that figure. Anything that gives you a number more like $65k+ that they have to beat... so they start their offer at $70k or higher.

I never thought about that, but my current employer outright refused to give me an offer until I disclosed my salary.

I just ran a COL comparison - I made $61k (COL adjusted to $88,800) and they offered $87k + $10k signing bonus (I negotiated the bonus as salary, so it ended up being a permanent increase to base pay).  I bet if I was making $80k in Phoenix, my offer would have been a lot higher....

It's a great place to work and I have no complaints, but that pisses me off to this day.

StiffUpperLip

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2017, 12:46:10 AM »
Ok. Now I've slept on it and all your advice has 'percolated' in the coffee machine of my mind, I have the following plan...

I'm going to call the contact who emailed to see if they'll give their expectations, and if not I'll be asking for more information on the job scope/responsibilities (which I'd hope to gain as part of interview/disussions) and  a  better idea of the benefits package (as base salary is only one  variable in considering the value of an offer)

My general approach will be one of mild surprise to discuss so early as a screening question due to the lack of salary range on the job posting, appreciation of their intent to ensure alignment of expectations, making sure to say I'm looking for the right role, not just a compensation package but that I would trust that they have done their research and would offer a fair package aligned with the value they place on the role.

I don't want to give current salary at this time as again  it is only part of the picture bearing I mind the other benefits e.g. leave, bonus etc. Plus it is not relevant due to differences in job scope, remit and the lower COL area.

I think I'm defaulting to approaching it as a technical question - they have a better understanding of the role/remit/scale of the "problem to be solved" and an understanding of the wider "total compensation" picture so if they aren't willing to show their hand I need some of the additional info they're party to in order to try to research a fair base salary.

Anything else I should consider here? Is this approach too aggressive?

I'll pop back later to let you know how I get on... Wish me luck?

StetsTerhune

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2017, 04:58:59 AM »
All good advice so far, just want to add (particularly since you said your industry doesn't have much benchmarking) that they probably aren't​ doing this as a negotiation tactic. They most likely simply have a set budget for this job and don't want to waste time interviewing you if they know they can't afford you. I'm not sure that changes your strategy at all though.

Smokystache

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2017, 06:02:11 AM »
Even though I'm not in software or engineering, this post has always been something I return to:
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

Of course, it is important to point out that these techniques work best when you're in a "applicant's market" - where you are in high demand. But it does give some suggestions of strategies for "filling in the blank" etc. It's a long read, so get another cup of coffee before you start - but I think it is absolutely worth it.

damnedbee

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2017, 11:49:41 AM »
Don't disclose your salary or desired salary until you are very close to an offer or have an offer. The first person to name a figure loses in salary negotiation.

You can stall and put them off in bunches of ways. They know how to play the game, and if you redirect the request, they'll back off. If they ask what salary you're looking for, turn it around and ask them what hiring range they have in mind.

Or try these:

"Expect salary commensurate with industry standard and experience"

"Prefer to learn more about the job and responsibilities first to determine an appropriate compensation package."

If pressed, offer a WIDE range, with the bottom of the range being at your desired figure. For example, if you're aiming for $85K, say you'd expect a range of $80,000-100,000.

And remember, ALWAYS counter their first offer. If you're their top candidate, they don't want to lose you or go to the expense of recruiting again. Hiring managers usually have some flexibility in their offer, so if you don't counter, you're leaving money on the table.

StiffUpperLip

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2017, 12:07:41 AM »
Thanks all for the advice, if nothing else I went into the conversation calm and knowing what I wanted go come away with...

I got them to reveal their number, using the 'you know the role and  benefits package better than I do' premise, unfortunately it's much less than I need and turns out it's a much lower level role than the posting implies so I avoided wasting my time...

Thanks again, I'm keeping this advice close as I'm starting other applications this week.

COEE

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Re: Job Application / salary expectations question - help!
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2017, 06:59:20 AM »
Even though I'm not in software or engineering, this post has always been something I return to:
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

This is a timely post for me.  The link was a really good one - one I had seen before, but had lost track of.

I recently had two meetings with a company, and each time they asked what my figure was.  The first time I responded by asking about their benefits so I could get a better idea about what I would need to make to be inline with market total compensation.  The second time I asked what they were expecting to pay for the position - they declined to offer any information.  Both times it got me off of the hook to reveal any of my numbers.

My wife was pissed when I told her I didn't say anything, but last I heard I'm still on the short list.

I'm slowly learning to keep my damn mouth shut.