Photo: djile (Shutterstock)
More and more job listings now come with salary ranges—whether because the company posts it voluntarily, or because it’s the law. The reasoning behind pay disclosure laws is that increased transparency will bring about pay equity, regardless of an employee’s race or gender.
We’ve previously argued the case of pay transparency amongst coworkers, but what about when it comes to landing a new gig? To find out, I spoke with career coach Shoshanna Davis of Fairy Job Mother. If you’re a job-seeker, here’s how you can put pay transparency to use.
Knowledge is power
In recent years, you might have gotten to a third round of interviews before learning how much a potential job pays, only to be sorely disappointed. Pay transparency not only saves you that headache, but also levels the playing field between employers and candidates alike.
No matter what, Davis says you should ask for the salary range before accepting an interview if it’s not clearly listed on the job posting. “Knowing if the salary on offer aligns with your expectations is important before wasting your or the employer’s time,” Davis says.
Making a case for yourself
Once you’ve arrived at (or are nearing) the job-offer stage, knowing a position’s salary range gives you an extra boost of confidence during your salary negotiation. Without that knowledge, you might have felt you were flying blind, unsure if your proposed salary was arrogantly high or embarrassingly low. With that knowledge, you can make a case for why you deserve the upper end of their posted salary range.
Still, there’s an undeniable dread when your interviewer hits you with the inevitable “what are your salary requirements?” question. If this comes from the recruiter in the early stages of the interview process, Davis advises against sharing a number before fully understanding the role. Instead, you should respond that you’d like to learn more about the role and what it involves before answering.
When it does come time to give your response, always provide a range over a specific number. If you’re happy with the salary range in the original job listing, Davis says you can let the employer know that “your expectations align with the range on offer,” still without giving a specific number.
Once you receive an offer, you should attempt to narrow down the agreed-upon range. Again, Davis recommends sticking with ranges over specific numbers if you can. For instance, if the range is $70,000-$90,000, you wouldn’t simply ask for $80,000. Instead, you’d propose $80,000-$90,000, narrowing the original salary range to better suit your goals.
For this negotiation, think about your specific skills and experiences that make you a valuable hire. To prepare, here are our tips for how to negotiate your salary.
Let the transparency be one-sided
Use a job posting’s salary range as an entry point to have a more open and transparent conversation—at least, when it comes to what the company can offer you. If your potential employer asks for your salary history, forget transparency: This only gives them the upper hand in negotiations. Instead, turn their question right around. For instance, you might respond to a question about your past salary with, “Actually, I was hoping to ask what you’re offering for this position?” or “Respectfully, could we focus on what you have budgeted for this role?” It may be uncomfortable, but stay strong, because your ability to keep pay transparency coming from the employer’s end could have a big impact on your salary offer.