A million dollars would be nice, but I'll accept lower
June 3, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Best ways to respond to the salary question during job interviews when the experience is more valuable then the paycheck?

I have a job interview coming up to move back into a full time position and I hate the salary question. My experience has me listed in a senior level consulting position for the past 3 years, however I'm pretty much at the top of my career with no where to go unless I reskill in a different medical EMR software. The new, potential position offers this opportunity that would allow me to reskill in a growing market while utilizing a large chunk of my existing experience.

So my question is two fold:

1) What is the best way to ask the employer what their salary range is? Given the market trend in this growing field, the salary range is widely variable and I can't find any definite information on salary. However, I do know that it generally demands a higher salary then a similar non-specialized position.

2) What is the best way to respond when the experience is truly more valuable then the paycheck? This is complicated by the fact that with only a year or two experience, one can be pushed into 6 figures so I'm concerned that given my past consulting history; the employer may be hesitant that I'll leave as soon as possible. This isn't the case as I'm exhausted from my current travel schedule but can't rule out the possibility of stepping back into the IT contracting / consulting world in a few years.
posted by lpcxa0 to Work & Money (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This isn't really an answer to your questions (I did my "salary question" by looking at salaries on Glassdoor...not very original, I know), but when you do negotiate, don't use round numbers!
posted by Fortran at 3:47 PM on June 3, 2013 [5 favorites]

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously. Those questions have a lot of ideas about how to figure out the prospective employer's salary range.
posted by John Cohen at 4:18 PM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

• How you negotiate for yourself will give them an indication of how you negotiate, full-stop. How people negotiate is a lens into a whole host of factors in terms of job performance. Thus, when negotiating regarding salary, it will cast you in a light. Make sure that cast reflects your true capabilities and skills.

• Salary is a (very) important aspect of job roles, however it is not the ultimate determiner for a lot of people. There are other things that can mitigate salary limitations. Extra holiday. Equity options. Formal training. Flexible working schedule. Conference attendance. Those things all have value, and will have different values to different people.

• When the salary question comes up, it is probably best not to dodge it or try and manipulate it. Be honest and you'll never have anything to apologise for. You went as far as you wanted to go. You had a high salary, but did not see a future for yourself there. You don't mind the lower salary – as you understand there are hard limitation there – and you'd like the ability to attend two industry conferences a year, or the opportunity to gain a professional certification. Something that the new role can offer that the old role did not – something non-financial. And just be authentic about it.

• Authenticity is not the same as honesty. Honesty is telling them you hit your head on the roof, you want a different future, and you see an opportunity with them. That is all about you. That has nothing to do with them. They didn't hit their heads on a roof. They don't need a different future. Authenticity is realising that both sides need something, and you're coming together to mutually satisfy those needs. They need someone qualified to do a role, and you have an impressive background. You see the opportunity to diversify and like their company. They think you can contribute to their organisation. You think you can contribute to their organisation. They will see that you have invested a lot of effort into getting yourself where you are, and you have a certain market value. You have invested a lot of effort into getting to where you are, you do have a certain market value, and you are willing to take some of that value in the form of non-financial compensation.
posted by nickrussell at 4:34 PM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: "I'm really interested in a good work-life balance and this position is a fantastic opportunity to re-calibrate my career. Currently I'm at the top of the pay scale in my current path and I'm aware that I'll have to re-adjust my expectations to be in-line with the opportunity. That said, what's the salary range you have in mind?"

I think that about covers it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:57 PM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

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