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Know Your Worth—And How To Ask For It

Business Support Tips & Tricks
Know Your Worth

This is a guide for job seekers to understand how much are they worth in their industry. This article gives you tips on salary negotiations and helps you with the right technique to talk about your salary expectations with a recruiter or an employer

Often I find myself in interviews where candidates struggle to answer me confidently when I ask them about their ideal salary. I see them doing so well over all, but when it comes to discussing their financial expectations, they hesitate and more often than not, under quote themselves.

For many candidates, I see that this particular question is a big concern for various reasons. Either they don’t know their worth and undermine themselves, or they know their worth, but when asked the big question, are willing to accept an offered salary—even if it doesn’t meet their needs or expectations—without negotiation.

Seeing this trend repeatedly, I decided to take this matter into my own hands. I developed the following structure for job seekers to work through and prepare, before having the ‘salary expectation’ conversation, and then when asked during interview.

Work out your minimum salary requirements

I know this is basic stuff, but sometimes it’s the essentials that get forgotten during stressful periods, i.e. during job hunting. It’s important to have worked out your financial requirements, before you go to an interview. Make sure you understand your weekly outgoings; rent or mortgage, bills, loans, travel costs etc. Now’s a great time to get a basic budget going and understand what you need to live on.

Evaluate your strengths

In my opinion this is the first step, in knowing what you are capable and not capable of. In today’s world, most people work in a very busy, fast paced environment and are constantly picking up more responsibilities than previously. As you are learning and growing with these new tasks, in no time your profile and expertise will develop. You become more capable compared to where you started from. Spend some time writing down these areas where you have learned and grown, and what you think your strengths are. It is so important that you are aware of any transition in your role and its impact on your current salary potential.

Match your capabilities

This step assumes you have a detailed position description for the role you are interviewing for. If you don’t—make sure you get one!  Go through each of the requirements and responsibilities  of the role, and take the time to write some notes, on how you and why you are capable of achieving each point. Be honest, you don’t have to be an expert in every single point. If there are gaps, that’s ok, but think about how you will answer the question about your capability in these areas.

Research

Being prepared for the salary question is essential. It’s really important to have a decent understanding of market rates for the role you are interested in. Providing this kind of valuable information to the local market is actually one of the reasons that Madison launched www.nzsalaries.co.nz. This free site allows people to search and access salary information across a range of industries, roles and locations in New Zealand. All you have to do is input your own remuneration rates (confidentially of course) in order to gain access to the database, which is growing every day.

I personally believe when you have information, you have knowledge. I’m sure you know the next famous saying; ‘knowledge is power’. Hence doing a bit of research will not only make you more confident, but will clear any confusion that you may have in your mind before you head for the interview.

Ask and you shall receive

I would also suggest you ask around your networks, and check what salaries people are on in a role similar to yours or the one you desire to be in. You may feel uncomfortable asking direct questions about dollars, which is fair enough, it’s possible people might be offended, or prefer not to say. Instead, you could try politely requesting an indication of roughly what they earn; ask them to provide a ballpark or range. This way you become more informed, which should build your own confidence in asking for what you deserve.

Be clear, not just polite

Imagine you are in the interview, and you’ve been asked the question “what are your salary expectations?”

Of course, you need to be polite and respectful while presenting yourself in the interview, but you need to also make sure that you are very clear when answering this question, and talking about your desired salary package. Now is not the time for vagueness. Try to avoid language like “I’d prefer to earn…..” or saying things like “around the 60k mark”, if you actually can’t accept less than $65k. It’s better to be upfront and direct—of course in the most polite way. To be seen as a confident candidate, it’s important to clearly communicate with your interviewer about what you think you are worth, and what you want to earn.

Negotiating the offer

The interview has gone well, you really want the job, you’ve discussed your salary expectations, and now you know the organisation wants you too. It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for!

But let’s say, the offer when it comes is not quite where you want it to be. This is where your hard work can pay off. Firstly, thank the person who has made the offer. Take your time (you can go away to think about it if needed, but try not to leave it too long) Then, using the clarity and politeness we talked about in the previous point, state your case as to why you would be delighted to accept the offer, it was more like ‘$XX’.  Be realistic, but ask for what you feel you deserve, for the role.


I hope you find my guide for knowing your worth and salary negotiation useful. I am personally keen to know if my article helped anyone in the slightest way! I would also love to hear if you would like me to write about anything else in the areas of job search and recruitment process, feel free to comment below with your ideas, or email me. Thanks for reading!