How do I state my salary requirements?
May 22, 2008 1:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm at the second interview for a job I'm interested in. I'm currently employed and not actively looking (I was recruited for this new position). They've asked me to bring in salary requirements; how is this usually done?

My first impulse is to list out my current salary + benefits and other perks, and vacation time, and then state what I'd like to get. I would like to request a comparable amount of vacation time to what I have now, as that's very important to me.

I plan to request for a pretty good amount up from what I currently make (as I'm not unemployed, I figure I can ask for more).

Do I list my info all out on a sheet of paper, or is that not done? Do I just blurt out a figure? Do I scribble a number on a little sheet of paper and slide it across the desk with a steely glare?
posted by TochterAusElysium to Work & Money (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I usually quote the range that people in my field make, and then I ask about benefits. I don't like giving them a specific number. They might have otherwise been willing to go higher, or they might think I want too much when I'd be willing to take less if I had to. I don't know where you're looking to work or what sort of position you seek, but I've never worked anywhere where benefits and vacation time were negotiable.
posted by katillathehun at 1:14 PM on May 22, 2008

I wouldn't list out what you currently make or get for benefits, as that gives them a playing card you don't want them to have. If you have a detailed request for specific benefits, then it might be worth coming with it written down. But in general, my experience is that at some point in the interview they ask what your salary expectation will be and you say, "I'd be looking for something between $X and $Y for salary," where $X is a worthwhile raise above what you currently make and $Y is the upper limit of what you think could request. After that, you can also mention whatever else you'd expect / need as far as benefits and vacation. I've never even gotten into that when interviewing. But that's in my industry; maybe it's different elsewhere.
posted by ga$money at 1:17 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had some luck in the past negotiating vacation time in a case where I had, say, 3 weeks of vacation a year at my old job (because I'd been there 5 years) and didn't want to lose that extra week of vacation at my new job (which I wouldn't have gotten until year 5 there).
posted by Oktober at 1:20 PM on May 22, 2008

I have worked some places, specifically during the dotcom boom, where benefits were negotiable, specifically vacation time and vacation earn rate. (This was often useful for folks who would return to a country of origin to visit family for a month out of the year.) Be careful with this, however, since it's much harder to get excluded from, losing unused vacation days no matter what rate or number you negotiated.

As for the negotiation process, ga$money has it exactly right. Giving them a range and letting them pick also helps you gauge their esteem for your skills and gives you greater visibility into their flexibility.
posted by abulafa at 1:22 PM on May 22, 2008

Don't tell them what you make now or what your benefits are unless asked directly. Also, benefits and vacation time are definitely negotiable; this is particularly true if it's a smaller company without rigid HR rules. If you want more, don't be afraid to ask. Especially if they won't meet your salary demands.

Make sure that they tell you all about the job before you tell them how much you want. Then just tell them flat-out. Tell them what you think you're worth given your achievements, job history, the local market, how desperate they are, your competition for the job, etc. You can hold firm to this because you will be confident that the market has set that price for your labor. If they won't give it to you, try to make it up with benefits. If they won't do that, thanks them for their interest and conclude the interview.

You have the advantage because they came looking for you and you don't need them.
posted by pandanom at 1:24 PM on May 22, 2008

I generally advise people NOT to tell prospective employers how much they make currently. It just gives them a lever to bargain you down from whatever you are asking for. The only time you ever get big raises is when you move from job to job, so take advantage of that (or change jobs often).

If someone asked me to come to an interview and "bring" salary requirements, I would bring them in my head. I know what I'm worth and how much more I want to be making in order for changing jobs to make sense. If I hate my old job, I don't need much of a raise. If I love it, I need a pretty generous one. I aim a little high and expect them to counter with something a bit lower, so I want their counter to be close to what I really want so I only have to go through one back and forth cycle. I don't think you should need to justify what you are asking for with a bunch of examples of what other people make. Your prospective employer should know all this already. If they don't, it's a bad sign.

As katillathehun notes, benefits and vacation time tend not to be negotiable, unless you are both very experienced and very good at what you do.

When I changed jobs back in December and was negotiating salary, I asked for about a 15% raise. They didn't know it was 15% because I didn't tell them what I was making before (they asked, but I said I would prefer not to say). My two main bargaining chips, which I explained clearly, were that I really enjoyed my current job, and that I would be leaving two years' worth of unvested stock options if I quit, and the company had just announced plans to IPO. In the end I got about a 10% raise, which I was very happy with, plus a generous stock option package.
posted by autojack at 1:26 PM on May 22, 2008

Wow - so glad I asked this! I'm still planning to negotiate vacation time, because it's pretty much a deal-breaker for me; I have 4 weeks now and wouldn't want to go back to two (or one!) unless they offered me a huge amount over what I currently make. But I most definitely will NOT write down my current salary etc. as I had planned. AskMe saves the day!!
posted by TochterAusElysium at 2:27 PM on May 22, 2008

Consider this, as well. Why is this company recruiting you? Could be because they want to grow smart and are trying to find the exact right people for their positions. Or, they are not a great place to work for and are bleeding people left and right.

All the above advice is exactly right, but keep this in mind when you are naming your price- what position will you be in if you take the job and then end up hating it six months later? You are taking a gamble with them, and you have to make sure it will pay off for you. If it was me, I'd ask for a similar benefit package and at least 25k more. The worst thing that can happen is that they don't offer you the job. Best that happens is you get an offer at that price. Then you tell your current employer that you got recruited and were presented with this offer. You don't want to leave, but you would have a real hard time turning this down. What can they do to make it worth your while to stay with them?
posted by gjc at 2:53 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

gjc, your thinking is in line with what I've been planning, except asking 25k more (though I like that idea, I'm not sure my industry/field supports it). I plan to ask a hefty sum over what I make now, though. Maybe, after reading your comment, it will be heftier yet...
posted by TochterAusElysium at 3:05 PM on May 22, 2008

Don't tell them what you currently make. Tell them you want to be paid what the job deserves. If they make you an offer less than what it would take to make you move, say "gee, I'm making more than that in my current job, I really couldn't do it for less than X."
posted by thomas144 at 3:50 PM on May 22, 2008

I've always negotiated for more vacation time with the exception of my current job. (My current job offered me 4 weeks to start and I couldn't ask for more than that.) Vacation time is easy to win in the job offer process - it's non-cash, but valuable.

Your salary requirements have little to do with your current earnings. They are asking you to assume the risk of changing employers. Anyway, a new job is always a bit different from what you currently do. Look at the job responsibilities and price that job fairly.

If they ask I'd say, "Looking at the level of responsibility and the local job market, I'd require compensation of $X to $Y to consider this job. Also, I require Z weeks of vacation."
posted by 26.2 at 12:14 AM on May 23, 2008

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