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Ssshh! It’s Time To Talk About Salary Expectations

By Simon on

When many candidates first approach us, they tell us they’re moving for a whole host of reasons. These range from a long commute, to unsuitable company culture, to lack of development and progression, to work-life balance. Some feel that they have simply reached a ceiling and want a new challenge. Or that they need to be pushed to achieve their long-term career ambitions. They very rarely touch on the main thing that drives most people to move – their salary.

Approximately 90 per cent of the candidates we’ve placed in new positions during 2016 have seen their salaries increase by around £1,000 to £4,000, depending on where they are in their career. There are occasions when candidates do move for the same money. But this is generally when they can see that there’s ample room for personal development in these new positions. Interestingly, we’ve also seen a lack of experienced candidates in certain sectors, such as digital and PR, result in a number of candidates receiving well above average pay increases. And we’ve had candidates relocate from London and not have to take a significant pay cut, as they may have done only a few years ago.

Earning more money tends to go hand-in-hand with landing a new role. But in 2016 alone we’ve witnessed over 50 per cent of final salary negotiations fall flat at offer stage because there’s been a mismatch over salary expectations.

There’s no denying that there’s an awkwardness and reluctance among candidates, and potential employers for that matter, to discuss money. Polite as it may be, however, it’s not going to get you the type of salary that you really want. Or, for a company, the person you want to fill your role.

The interview process can take 3 to 4 weeks, sometimes longer. You really don’t want to go through all that and then realise there is a mismatch between a candidate’s expectations and a client’s budget for the role. It’s best to be clear about salary from the offset. And companies that still use the term ‘negotiable’ will drastically reduce their chances of attracting the most appropriate candidate; at the very least use a salary band, but it’s far better to be specific. Whether you’re a graduate saving for a flat deposit or an experienced professional with a mortgage to pay, money matters. Taking home that little bit less or earning that little bit more has a direct impact on your lifestyle.

Believe it or not, it’s ok to be candid about your salary expectations when you are asked. That way, there’s less risk of you feeling devalued or having to turn the job down when it’s offered to you.

In reality, your salary expectation needs to be in line with your level of experience and value. It should be at the level of your current or last salary, or a reasonable amount above it. Provided that you discuss the subject diplomatically and don’t just simply demand what you’d like to be earning, are realistic about your true market value, and are prepared to negotiate, you should be able to come to a satisfactory arrangement with your future employer. A word of caution: if you ask for a salary which is totally out of sync with your current salary, level of experience, and market conditions, it can turn the interview ice cold. There’s no harm in aiming high, but going over the top will harm your credibility.

It’s important to do some research. About the market salary range for the role. The size of the company you’re interviewing with. Their location. And your own experience level.

You’ll probably find some conflicting information and variations in salaries. But you will get a general sense of how the land lies if you consult a few sources. Your goal is to arrive at a reasonable salary expectation that seems fair, based on market value and your skill set, allied with your current or most recent salary. This way, if pressed, you can ask for a salary that’s based on facts and research, and is within the market range and not just what you want. In essence, you have to find a middle ground. And remember, it is a starting salary, and will increase over time.

Yes, your salary – and money in general, in fact – tends to be a taboo subject. No matter what type of role you’re going for or which sector you work in. But the sooner you start being open and upfront about it, the sooner you can start earning a salary that suits both you and your potential new employer.

Got any questions? Want practical advice on what salary you should aim for? Or on how to discuss your salary expectations at your next interview? Contact our team of specialists on 0121 355 0955 or email consult@afselection.co.uk.