Interpersonal Edge: Solving the mystery of salary ranges

Mystery Of Slary Edges

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By Dr. Daneen Skube

Q:I’m applying for new jobs. Many employers refuse to provide a salary range until I’m into the interview process. Once I’m excited about the job, I discover the job pays less than I make now. How can I get a potential employer to admit the salary range?

A: You can get a potential employer to tell you the salary range, if you make it in their best interests to do so. Saying something like, “I don’t want to waste your time because it turns out the industry standard for my job is more than your company can afford. I want to know before we start that your budget is in line with other jobs I’m considering.”

If the potential employer still hems and haws, you learned the job cannot pay you the industry standard. Think of yourself as a product for sale in the job market. Most consumers (think the company) have an idea about what they’ll spend for a product. The idea your potential employer is both serious about hiring you and has no idea what they’ll spend is unlikely.

As a product in a market there’s a value assigned to your education, experience, and accomplishments. When you interview for new jobs you’ll quickly get an idea of what different employers are willing to pay.

A standard practice with most employers and recruiters is to ask you about your current salary. You would be unwise to share this information. Whatever salary you tell a new employer means your negotiation will only come in only slightly higher than your current income.

Instead it’s effective to combine all your benefits, perks, and future benefits, and provide a current salary that’s what you want. Be aware the greatest increase in income you’ll gain will be when you leave one company, and move to another. Most employers provide very little data to a new employer so it is unlikely any potential employer would have access to your current salary.

If you provide a range that’s what you want but not what you currently make, you’ll learn if a new employer is serious. If the recruiter or employer gasps and tells you that your salary range is out of their budget, congratulations, you saved time.

An employer that can afford the product you are will let you know your salary preference and their range match. You’ll go into the interview free to get excited and sell yourself to a potential employer because you know they can afford you.

If in doubt, state a higher range than you expect will work. Most employers will be surprised and spit out the top of their range. You, now, have the reality of what they can actually afford.

If you consistently hear that your salary preferences are not in line with the employer’s range, do more research on your market value. There may be education, certificates, or experiences that will make your value higher.

If you cannot immediately make what you would like, don’t get discouraged. Any job we take and excel within gives us experiences and opportunities to solve problems. The better you get at problem solving in your industry, the more employers will fight for your attention.

Don’t make the mistake of focusing only on the number on your current paycheck. A willingness to negotiate for the best salary you can command is a start. The long game is to make yourself so useful and valuable to employers you have multiple competing offers.

The last word(s)

Q: I’m at a point where I’m sick of socially isolating and want to throw caution about COVID to the winds. Is there a path you recommend clients take to return to “normal”?

A: Yes, evaluate your risk, vaccination status, and ability to take time off. We’ll all experience exposure eventually, but there’s no reason to throw all caution to the winds.

(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)