I receive questions from people all the time and thought this questions was really good, so I wanted to share the question and my response.
Dear Interview Doctor,
I understand that you recommend job seekers avoid talking about salary as long as possible in the job search and interview process. That makes perfect sense. We don’t want to be eliminated too early. But we all know that we can’t put it off forever. How can I discover salary information for a specific role in an S-corporation in northern Ohio? Is there a research tool that I can use?
~ Confused but trying to be smart
Dear Confused Smartie,
Good question!! You are correct that you want to deflect salary questions as long as possible.
NOTE: The only exception is when you are talking to a headhunter, an external professional recruiter. They need this information immediately. They might exclude you from consideration if you deflect, so be judicious in how you handle this information.
You should practice deflection when you are talking to company representatives. You want them to fall in love with you first!
When you talk salary, you want to talk about a range. We call that a “market range.” This is the range of salaries people commonly are paid for this line of work. The market range is NOT the rate of pay you received in your last job. Your last rate of pay might or might not be within the range. But a company is likely to pay you what it must pay according to the market of what other people are getting paid.
I recommend researching salaries using one of the salary survey tools. These services get salary information by statistically tabulating surveys of actual salary data.
I used to use Salary.com all the time because it is easier to use. But a friend who specializes in compensation says this service is not as up-to-date these days. I tested this theory recently and got very different results from salary.com and another tool. So now I use it carefully. But it is still the easiest salary tool to use.
Payscale.com is more accurate, in my experience. Payscale allows the user to search by geography and size of organization, which makes the results even more accurate. I recommend this tool to get the specific detail you seek.
There is no one salary number that is correct. Both services provide a range of salaries. The survey will show you the lower end (called 25%) and higher end (called 75%) of the range of salaries paid these days for the job in question. The midpoint (50%) is the median. I will not get into statistical theory here but, suffice it to say, these are statistical labels.
Most companies choose not to pay above the midpoint. So if a range is $70K at the 25% mark (the lower point on the chart), $85K at midpoint, and $100K at max, then assume the company is not likely to (they do not want to) pay a salary too much more than $85K (the midpoint). Make sense?
We encourage candidates to use this information in their negotiations once they can no longer deflect the salary question. It sounds like this:
“The market range for this position is $80K to $90K. I am comfortable in that range.“
The lowest number the candidate provides is the lowest number the candidate is willing to accept, within that range. Ok?
The lowest number does not have to be your actual last salary or the 25% mark on the salary. That information is your business. You do not have to share it (except with headhunters, remember?).