It starts with the answer to that one-million-dollar question. And before you let any fancy salaries drive you crazy, there are a few basic things you should know:
Every job has a certain market value. That is the price employers are willing to pay for certain competencies and a certain degree of responsibility in the job, the respective job level. The amount of the salary also depends on the cost of living in the country or region where you will do the job, on the industry for which you are doing the job (the NPO area usually pays less than, for example, the financial industry) and even on the job family, i.e. the area in which you start working, IT, finance, marketing, HR, etc.
And be careful, the result of the research is not a single number, but a salary range that usually begins with the minimum of the collective bargaining agreement.
Is salary still a taboo?
YES and NO. Three things help to find your way in the ‘forest of silence’.
First, the employer must indicate the minimum salary for the advertised job – but be careful, that is rarely the salary that the company is actually willing to pay.
Why is there a difference? If only because any overtime flat rates have to be paid. And when you are offered an all-in contract, a certain basic amount of overtime is included.
Second, you should do a thorough internet research, on portals such as kununu.com/glassdoor.com/stepstone.at/karriere.at/xing.at, on the online portals of newspapers and magazines, etc. And don’t limit yourself to the exact job title but google similar jobs in your area of responsibility.
Third, you can ask friends and mentors what they would demand for the job you are applying for – this question is more elegant than asking directly about the person’s salary and is therefore much more likely to be answered.
When should I address the salary?
When you apply, you usually have to fill out your details in an online portal – and the question of salary is often one of them. If possible, you should simply write: “I want to receive a salary which is market relevant for the position” or you should specify a range. The lower value of the range should be the value you want to get – and the upper value about 5-10% higher. Why, unfortunately, you often get exactly the minimum of what you ask for – provided that these values are all within the realistic salary range for this specific job level.
Ideally, you only talk about the salary when it becomes clear that the employer is making you a job offer. Before you know whether your contribution can make a difference in the company and whether you can thrive in the company’s culture, there is no point in talking about salary. That would be exactly as unreasonable as if you checked on a dating portal which suit a potential partner would wear for your wedding.
Could my salary claim seem too outrageous?
No – it’s not what you say but, of course, how you say it. And what is irritating is when the candidate states a desired salary that is outside the salary range without being able to explain why. For example, if you ask too little, you do not appear elegantly modest, but the company immediately would question: “What is wrong with this person?”, because your performance has its price, and you should definitely ask for it.
If you have realistic expectations, and that’s why research is so important, and you have the skills that the employer needs, you don’t have to worry that you won’t get the position just because you ask a little more than other candidates. It is important to have a good explanation that, for example, your higher salary expectations correlate with the will to put in an above-average effort or to be able to install the latest software that the employer would otherwise have to buy expensively on the market, etc. If the request is not granted immediately, one could agree on a step-by-step plan with the employer that already foresees the next adjustment after a certain period. It is important to stand by your demands, not to weaken immediately – and to show flexibility in finding a solution. Perhaps the desired salary is not granted, but you will be reimbursed for an exciting coaching, mentoring program or for the cost of a fitness center. After all, money is money.