When you are looking for a new job, you typically have two numbers in mind: the lowest salary you’ll accept and the salary you hope to get. While it’s not unreasonable to want to make a career move for more money, it’s imperative to find the right match and not overprice yourself.
Of course you want to be paid for the value you contribute, but I find as a recruiter that many people overlook non-monetary benefits while seeking new employment. When your sole focus is on salary, then culture, stability, growth and future opportunity could be overlooked. If you refuse to go below your “lowest acceptable number,” you could be missing out on working for a great company.
Another risk associated with over-pricing yourself is that if you do get the job at a higher price, you’ll be expected to create value right away, and this will be carefully considered in your 90-day-evaluation.
What to say when a company asks for your salary expectations
If you are interviewing with a hiring manager and they ask you what your current salary is then tell them what your salary is currently. If asked for the salary you expect to make, we suggest telling them you are “open.” In interviews, the focus should always be on if this is a better fit for your career growth and stability anyway.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you’re more than likely going to be competing for jobs with people who will accept lower salaries, and if your expectations are much higher, you may be out of the running. Salary value could be a big selling point to a hiring company.
Another option you have in your job search is to be open to lower salaries with the intent of moving up, especially if you are not happy in your current job or if you are unemployed.
If unemployed, the biggest advantage you have is being more open on salary and this could help you secure the job over employed candidates that aren’t willing take a step back in pay.
It may seem unlikely, but there are many people that have successfully taken a step back in pay to get out of a bad situation and into a better company. Don’t be afraid to take a lower salary if the new job opportunity is a better fit for long term growth and/or more stability – big picture reasons.
Either way, a high performer is likely to get promoted, and you’ll be closer to, or even higher than, the salary you were looking for if this is the right fit. This is why they call it a starting salary.
Listen to what your gut tells you
At the end of the day, you’re probably looking for a new job because you are no longer happy at your current one. The key to finding happiness in a career isn’t (solely) salary – it is culture, the people you work for, the people you work with and the job you’re doing. It’s about finding the right fit.
Salary and benefits are important, but if you aren’t going to be happy, you have to decide if it’s worth it.