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How to Discuss Salary During the Job Application Process

You’ve fine-tuned your resume, crafted the perfect cover letter and landed the job interview; but now, you are faced with the awkward conversation of compensation. You work hard and your abilities show that. However, approaching the topic of salary and how much you think you deserve can be tricky. We’ve laid out a few tips to help you navigate and prepare for the sometimes dreadful conversation that will more than likely come up during your job application process. 

First and foremost, know what you’re talking about

Walking into a job interview for a position that generally pays an entry-level salary and asking for something a senior-level executive is making is irresponsible and shows the company you didn’t prepare. Jean Chatzky, financial journalist and author of Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security Offers, says, “First, make sure you know what this particular job is likely to pay. There may be a standard salary, which gives you little leverage to negotiate, but there may also be a range and, if so, you want to be near the top of it.”

Know your minimum offer

While you don’t want to ask for an outlandish starting salary, know what you can work with. If that means creating a budget and determining what the lowest possible salary you could live off, do that. Michelle Reed, former HR coordinator at WyzAnt Tutoring, suggests, “Don’t listen to that instinct that tells you you’re being too pushy; be direct and say something like ‘I’m really hoping to be at [ideal number], is that possible?’ Employers expect a back and forth before a salary is agreed upon.”

Be open to discussion

Once you’ve researched the average salary for your position, Glassdoor has a great search engine for this, determined the lowest possible salary you could work for, then be mindful that an open discussion would be mutually beneficial for both parties. Chatzky notes, “That will involve making a case for all you’ll bring to the company (which you may have already done if they’re making you an offer) and not jumping on that first offer on the spot. Whatever it is, take time to think about it and then come back and ask for more. If you are evaluating other offers, now is the time to bring that up.”

Make yourself the priority

Above all else, remember this is your job. This is a position you will be working five days a week, if not more; therefore, make sure you agree to a salary that excites you enough to get out of bed each morning.

Approaching the discussion of salary during the job application process can be nerve wracking and uncomfortable, but doing a little research, being open to discussion and remembering your self-worth, will prepare you for anything. Good luck, collegiettes!

Lauryn is a 2014 graduate of Mars Hill University where she majored in Business with a concentration in marketing and finance. While in college Lauryn was the Founder and Editor of Her Campus Mars Hill. She is currently a candidate for her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She lives for a good plot twist, a great cup of coffee and new running shoes.