An expert gives tips on handling salary question in job interviews

CAN THEY DO THAT?

May 31, 2006|By CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN | CARRIE MASON-DRAFFEN,NEWSDAY

Last week, we tackled a question from a job hunter whose resume routinely drew responses from companies - until the salary question came up. After that, she never heard from them again. She alternately tried specifying an amount, quoting a range or indicating she could be flexible for the right opportunity, but none worked.

This week, we'll look in detail at how to respond. The following advice comes from Mastering the Job Interview and Winning the Money Game by career expert Kate Wendleton.

Earnings above industry rate.

"A counselor asked me to have a meeting with his client, Sam, who was having problems finding a job because of his high salary. I did an interview role play with Sam. At one point, I said, `So Sam, what are you making now?' Sam replied, `Two hundred thousand dollars plus-plus-plus.' So I said, `I know you're a very competent person, but we simply can't afford someone at your high level.'

"Sam's salary wasn't hurting him, but his way of talking about it was. Even if your salary isn't $200,000 plus-plus-plus, you can easily put off the hiring manager who thinks your salary will be a problem. You must tell her, `Salary will not be a problem,' especially if you know it is a problem."

Earnings within industry range.

"Most companies want to know what you are making. If you are within the market range, they will pay you 10 to 15 percent above what you are currently making."

Earnings below industry rate.

"Again, you have a few options. If a manager asks what you are making, you could answer instead with `What are you looking for?'"

"Note: You haven't revealed either what you are making or what you want - but you've still tested the hiring manager's expectations. The person who states a number first is at a negotiation disadvantage.

"Or you could say, `My current salary is $32,000. I know the marketplace today is closer to $45,000. I have been willing to trade off the salary to build my skills. ... But now I ... don't need to trade off for money.' "

carrie.draffen@newsday.com

Carrie Mason-Draffen writes for Newsday.

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