Thursday, January 25, 2007

Too Little Salary, Too Late for More?

I have a question related to salary that I would like to ask. I am a university fresh graduate and looking for my first full time job. Recently I went for an interview and everything went well. I quite like the job and the employer was asking for a second interview some time soon.

During the interview, the subject of salary was brought up and I requested x amount of salary. The employer did not say anything and I feel that he is ok with the amount I quoted.

But after some thinking after the interview I feel that the amount is quite low and I would like a much higher salary. I am not sure whether it is advisable to request a higher salary as I am afraid he might not be happy with me for breaking my word. Please give some advice as to what is the proper way to put it across. And should I wait for the second interview before I raise this question or should I send him an email before the second interview? Thanks

by Bridget Oakes, Senior Search Consultant

There’s an old joke that goes something like this:

Reaching the end of a job interview, the human resources person asked a young applicant fresh out of business school, "And what starting salary are you looking for?"

The applicant said, "In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of five weeks' vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50 percent of your salary, and a company car leased every two years, say, a red Corvette?"

The applicant sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

And the interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it."

The reality here is that you may have painted yourself into a corner with the salary you quoted, but all is not lost!

Your first step should be to investigate the average starting salaries for entry level positions in your specific field and location. is an excellent tool for this. I would also check with your academic advisor or Career Services Center to see what sort of statistics they have.

If you find that you asked for a salary far below your fair market value. You may want to address this with the company. If they brought up salary in the first interview, I would expect it to come up again in the second. As a new graduate, you may be able to simply admit you were surprised the topic came up, and that upon further research you feel that X number is more realistic.

In general, I advise candidates to avoid discussing salary in initial interviews (especially initial phone screens). You’ll have more leverage if you wait until you're at the job offer stage. However, if the employer asks, here are standard responses:

- I understand the salary range for this position is X-XX, I’m sure we could agree on a number in that range.
- I’d like to clearly understand the opportunity for me here as that will be as much of a factor in my decision as salary.

Note from Susan Ireland
On (not related to me; it’s a site for the country, Ireland) I found a host of great articles including one on Salary Negotiation.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.


John West Hadley said...

This was very good advice. Here's my 4 step process: "ADQR"
A = Avoid = never bring up compensation.
D = Defer = when asked early in the process, try to defer it, along the lines of "It's hard for me to answer that without knowing more about the position, could we discuss that first?"
Q = Query = Ask for THEIR range
R = Reveal a range = Finally, reveal what you are seeking, but always in a range, such as "I feel my skills are worth $100-120,000, depending on the details of the compensation package."
John West Hadley, FSA
Career Search & Career Enhancement Counselor
(908) 725-2437

"Partnering With You In Your Career"

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Anonymous said...

I was wondering if it would be wrong if I asked for more money after the interview. I interviewed, was offered a salary and I did not make a big deal about the amount because I thought it was pretty good. In the phone interview I asked for less, and the person who phone interviewed me suggested the higher amount they were offering. After the actual in person interview, I still thought it was pretty good, but then I realized that is probably their starting offer and I could have asked for more. Now the HR rep called and told me to show up for the physical the next day, so that I could start on monday. Is it too late to ask the position manager for a little more?