One of the hardest parts of the job interview process comes in the form of a very simple question: “How much do you make?” The question typically comes up in the first screening call with the human resources recruiter. It is also asked on the online job application.
The problem is, answering the question “how much do you make” or “how much do you want to make” can put you at a disadvantage as a job seeker. Sites like Glassdoor have shown us that there are a huge range of salaries offered for roles. Salaries aren’t standardized across industries or even within companies.
If you answer this question off by almost any amount at all, you can be (and often are) eliminated from consideration. In other words, the company has a pay range in mind. If you don’t correctly guess a number in that range, you’re out. If you’re too low, they may consider you to be underqualified, and too high, they’ll assume you’d say no to an offer. If you’re inside of the range, but on the low end, you will be paid on the low end in the future.
If you ask a recruiter why they need to know this information, they’ll tell you they just want to learn if you’re in their budget. But, we aren’t products to be bought and sold. We’re humans. The company knows the value of the role. They ought to share their number, and allow the job seeker to determine if it’s a fit.
The good news is, the laws around salary are evolving. In a number of states and cities, companies can no longer ask for salary history. In California, if you’re in a job interview and you ask for the pay range, the employer must share it with you.
Beginning in October, Maryland is going to join this trend. The legislature has passed HB123 that keeps employers from asking for your pay history – verbally, in writing, or by any other means. In addition, if the job applicant requests the pay range for the job, the employer must provide it.
This is a huge step in the right direction. Long term however, what I’d like to see is the pay range posted for every job. It shouldn’t be a secret game that you need to know the rules of. Plus, as a job applicant, asking for this information can leave a negative taste in the company’s mouth.
On top of that, I’ve found many companies aren’t aware of the rules. Even in states where the laws are very clear, the company will ask these questions. That puts the job seeker in a very awkward position.
If you’re currently looking for a job, research the rules in your area. No matter what they are, check out the salary data for the company on Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn. This will help you to be prepared for anything.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.
Have you ever been asked, “How much do you make?” in a job interview? This question usually shows up during the first phone call.
You’ve applied online. The HR manager calls you. The conversation seems normal at first. They ask, “Why did you apply for this job?” and “Tell me about yourself.” The all of the sudden, bam! “How much do you make?” Or, they may try, “How much have you made in the past?”
These questions are tough, and they have more of an influence on your future than you may think. Whether you’re currently underpaid or overpaid, answering this question wrong can completely eliminate you from consideration. And, answering too low can also put you at a disadvantage.
A number of states and cities have started to reduce or eliminate this question altogether. In 2017, Delaware and New York City banned employers from asking about salary history. In January 2018, California banned questions around a candidate’s pay history. In July 2018, Massachusetts will join suit. In 2019, Oregon will ban employers from asking. New Orleans and Pittsburgh are also implementing this rule on city agencies.
It may not be clear right away what’s wrong with this question. Many companies think of it as finding out if the person fits into their budget.
But, the problem is this. If someone has ever been underpaid for any reason, including discrimination or just an unfortunate circumstance, that person will likely always be underpaid going forward. Asking the question, “How much do you make?” ensures that your future salary is based on your current salary.
But, what if you’re switching between industries and one pays much higher salaries? What if you’re switching between a higher education job and a corporate job? What if you’re moving from an inexpensive city in the middle of the country, to a pricey city on the coast?
Once you’re behind in salary negotiations, you will likely always be behind. Unless you’re protected by a rule that bans the question completely. Banning it puts the responsibility back onto the company to decide what a particular role is worth to them. It forces the company to pay employees more fairly, based on the work they produce – rather than their negotiation abilities.
If you find yourself being asked this question, do your homework. Before you’re asked how much you make, know the response you want to give. The less you need the job, the riskier you can be with your answer. I often advise job seekers to ask the company if they would feel comfortable to share their pay range with you. This allows the company to share their salary instead. Alternatively, you can offer your target range. But, base this range on data. Scour websites like Glassdoor.com for as much salary information as you can find about your job.
Pushing back on this question helps guarantee that everyone will be paid more fairly going forward.
Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.
I hope you’re having a great week! I’m writing with an update. My recent tutorial about how to use LinkedIn’s new referral feature was well received. If you missed the LinkedIn referral tutorial, you can find it on YouTube here.
Because it went over so well, I wanted to share another tutorial for you. In this tutorial, I’m going to share with you — how to use the Glassdoor “Know Your Worth Tool.”
The Glassdoor.com Know Your Worth Tool helps you to estimate your current market value — where you live, for your job, and for the amount of experience you have. It helps you to know if you’re being paid fairly, and if not, what alternatives might exist for you in your area.
I hope you enjoy this how to use the Glassdoor “Know Your Worth Tool” tutorial!
Episode 161 is live! This week, we talk with Alexandra Dickinson in New York, NY.
Alexandra is an entrepreneur who teaches people to negotiate. She’s the Founder and CEO of the negotiation training and coaching company Ask For It. She is a contributing writer at Women at Forbes and has spoken at organizations like UN Women, Columbia Business School, and Facebook. She will be speaking at SXSW this year on the topic, “Time’s Up on the Gender Pay Gap: How to Negotiate in 2018.”
On today’s episode, Alexandra shares:
The common misconception about negotiation
The importance of research in negotiation
How to figure out how much we, personally, should ask for when it comes to a new job
To learn more about Alexandra, visit her website at http://askforit.co/. You can also learn more about her talk at SXSW by visiting www.sxsw.com.
Thanks to everyone for listening! And, thank you to those who sent me questions. You can send me your questions to Angela@CopelandCoaching.com. You can also send me questions via Twitter. I’m @CopelandCoach. And, on Facebook, I am Copeland Coaching.
Don’t forget to help me out. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave me a review!
You know that negotiation is one of my favorite things – especially when you’re switching companies! A job transition is the perfect time to negotiate your salary up. When it comes to a successful salary negotiation, one of the most important things you can do is salary research. Take the time to find out what a competitive salary is for your new role, and for particular companies.
Especially in the corporate world, different companies pay very differently for the same position. Even within a company, pay can vary significantly. Companies use pay bands to determine how much employees may make. It may not sound like a big deal, but some positions have pay bands that span a range of $50K or more. In theory, you will be paid more for more experience and more education. In reality, these things do matter – but, so does your ability to negotiate.
You may wonder where to begin your salary research. There are many different sources online where you can do salary research – too many to cover here. I will touch on just a few that will be the best sources of information for beginning your salary research – including a new way to research salary that rolls out later this week!
Glassdoor has two options for salary research. The first is researching what a particular company pays for a certain role. In other words, search for a company that you like – by name. Then, enter a location (or you can leave location blank) and select the dropdown for “Salary.”
This simple search will give you a list of different roles at the company, and the pay range for each. You should search through the list to find jobs that are the most similar to the one you hope to interview for. Notice that each job will have both a pay range (shown as min and max), and the number of people who have reported their salary. Glassdoor provides self-reported data, so the data coming out is only as good as the data going in. Honestly though, the data going in appears to be pretty solid.
Their second option for salary research is a tool called the Know Your Worth Tool. It allows you to track your value over time, compared to the others in your area.
Salary.com has been around for years, but still provides basic salary information that can be helpful to your search. The site allows you to search by job title and city or zip code.
It provides a bell curve that will share with you what people with your title are making on average – and at the top and bottom ends of the curve. You can also compare base salary to base and bonus.
Because Salary.com isn’t industry or company specific, the data provided can be a bit vague, but I would argue that it’s still a decent data point to collect during your salary research.
You may never have thought much about it before, but Indeed also offers salary data. When you visit their site, click the “Find Salaries” tab. You will be taken to a screen where you can search by job title or company. If you search by job title, you’re taken to a second screen where you can narrow down your results by city and company. If you search by company, you will be taken to a screen where you can narrow it down based on job title within that company. Indeed provides a range, similar to both Glassdoor.com and Salary.com.
Today, you can find estimated salaries on LinkedIn by clicking on the “Jobs” tab and then clicking the link for “LinkedIn Salary.” You can search both by job title and by city. LinkedIn provides a range for both median base salary and median total compensation. And, you can narrow the results down by industry and years of experience.
But, even better than this — LinkedIn is adding a new feature to their site this week that will allow you to access the salary for a specific job posting you’re interested in. They want to help bring more transparency to conversations about salary. You know that I love this.
Here’s how the new “Salary Insights” will work. For many (but not all) jobs, you will begin to see a salary for each job posting. It will be listed as either “Expected” salary or “Estimated” salary. Expected is the salary that is provided by the company. Expected salary is LinkedIn’s estimate based on other data they have that matches the title, company, and location.
This new feature goes live later this week. Try it, and let me know what you think! I’m so excited to see increased pay transparency as part of the application process.
Salary Research Summary
Your ability to negotiate for the best salary will be determined by the hard work you put in to research what you’re worth. But, lucky for all of us, this process is getting easier and easier! The more salary research you do, the more likely you are to be able to ask for what’s fair. And, that’s all we really need, right? To be paid fairly, and to be treated with respect – those two things are key!
Good luck with your salary research! Let me know what you think about these methods.
Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.