Right answers to pay questions may require serious research

CAN THEY DO THAT?

May 24, 2006|By CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN | CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN,NEWSDAY

I'm job hunting. What I fear most about the whole process is the dreaded question: "What salary are you seeking?" Managers respond to my e-mails to tell me they have received my resume and ask me to specify a salary. If I specify an amount, the interviewer never follows up. I have gone so far as to stress that I could be flexible for the right opportunity. I still hear nothing back. And I have tried quoting a range. Nothing. I feel stuck.

Despite your frustration, your news isn't all bad, said Kate Wendleton, president of the Five O'Clock Club, a Manhattan career-services firm, who wrote Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game. "This means that your resume is doing a good job for you, and you are in a field that is in demand."

But the salary negotiations stand in your way. Of your three approaches, Wendleton likes the salary-range option better. Still, she stressed that, "It's really difficult to answer this question without knowing what you are worth in the market."

You will need to compare your most recent salary with what the market is paying for someone with your skills and experience.

The want ads are a good place to start, Wendleton said. Scan the ads to determine what companies pay for the kind of job you are seeking. Supplement that search by visiting Web sites with salary information such as www.salary.com.

It's important to drill down to the company level because while your "worth" will vary by industry and geographic area, it also will vary by company.

After you find the right information you will need to get to the hiring manager who will pop the salary question, Wendleton said. The people who have responded to you might not be a hiring manager but someone who just screens resumes and salary requests.

To get the right person, check the e-mail you received for a name or telephone number. Call the person listed and ask the salary range the company is looking for.

carrie.draffen@newsday.com

Carrie Mason-Draffen writes for Newsday.

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