“What does that have to do with salary negotiation?” Everything. Truly, it all starts there That is, despite what you have been told your first impression to the employer — not that super suit you just bought or even that fantastic virtual background you spent days sourcing. Generally on an application you are going to be faced with several questions related to your salary including what do you want to earn in this position and what you have earned in the past.

And typically you read that

Did you know almost half of all job applicants don’t follow directions? Andrea Clement, a Communications Director of a national healthcare recruiting firm, says, “Most of the time, if the directions aren’t followed, you won’t be considered for the job,” she says.

And this leads you to believe, “I have to answer these questions. I cannot leave anything blank.”

Don’t fall for it.

Many applications will let you skip these questions and in some states it’s now illegal to even ask the question about salary history.

Skip them. And if you can’t leave it blank, because the software won’t allow you to, see if it will accept a word (many do) and write this for salary desired: Negotiable. And if you are asked your earnings, explain it in words. Compensated annually, through weekly pay checks, with annual reviews.

Why am I telling you this?

  1. The most likely scenario with providing your salary is you are going to give the employer information to either consider you for this job (your salary is in range) or deny you this job (your salary is out of range). Another possibility is that you are going to give them information of what you are willing to work for and that could influence what they think you are currently worth. That’s exactly why in some states it’s now illegal to even ask about salary history. So in two of these three scenarios you don’t even get a chance for an initial interview for the job! And you do wan that initial interview, right? That is why you applied? Right?
  2. It’s impossible to negotiate above that point. If you state you are expecting $90,000 per year and then offer time comes, and they offer you $83,000, you cannot really ask for $95,000. Well, I guess you could but that’s going to lead them to say, “But on your application, you said you were willing to take $90,000” and could possibly lead to them wondering what else wasn’t genuine in your application. Do you really want to make a career with them? Is that really were you worked last? You get the picture. It might not cause them to rescind the offer, but it could certainly alter their perception of you as someone they truly want to join their organization. And that’s never a good place to be in a negotiation.
  3. Most people undervalue themselves. Most employers have a range of salary for the position and when they see a figure in there, they will offer you less than that, expecting you will negotiate. And most people don’t. And so, the employer got you. For less. And so made a nice profit in the bargain. Or saved some money toward something else they might need — maybe a better negotiator comes along for the next opening?
  4. Sometimes you can guess too high so the amount you enter is really outside the range. Almost all employers will not even consider interviewing individuals who desire a higher salary than they have to offer. So you have basically disqualified yourself for even an initial interview to learn more about this position. The logic is that, you won’t accept the job and therefore it’s not worth the time to interview you. But the reality is you have, at this point, very little information about the job. What if the job was minutes from your home or allowed you to permanently work from home — wouldn’t that greatly reduce your costs of travel? Or had outstanding benefits? A great work environment? Fridays of all summer long? Maybe that $5000 or $10000 less in salary is off-set by that? Or maybe the job involves the best opportunity to do the type of work you are most passionate about with people you just instantly connected with and so after consideration, you would accept less than you initially wanted, even less than you made previously because you see this as what you had truly been hoping to get for a long, long time.

So forget what so-called experts tell you. If you notice, many of them are actually recruiters WORKING FOR THE COMPANY not for you. Skip those questions. Or if you can’t, creatively (but truthfully) answer them.

To learn more about how to learn more about salary negotiation, attend our FREE webinar.

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