Gauging fair salary expectations of a position is extremely difficult in American workplaces. Several complex factors go into someone's compensation, and not all of the negotiating may be fair. See what type of dilemma you may find yourself in when the salary range of a company is either too low or too high versus when compared to your own expectations and value.
First, Some Legalities
The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2018 that companies cannot use previous salary as a way to determine someone's current salary. In effect, it's saying that firms cannot show bias towards one candidate over another based on a previous salary. For example, a company may choose to eliminate a candidate vying for a $50,000 position when that person's previous salary was $75,000 because the employer feels the candidate's salary expectations are too high and beyond the employer's price range. Similarly, a firm might not consider someone making $50,000 vying for a $75,000 job because a hiring manager might feel the candidate is underqualified.
The dilemma facing job seekers is that they may not know their fair market value when it comes to salary expectations. You may have started out at a lower pay rate once you graduated college simply because you accepted an entry-level job, worked in an area where the cost of living was lower or had a generous benefits package that lowered your base salary. Unless you do some intensive research, you may not even know your market value based on current salaries, your skill set, your job title and economic conditions in your geographical location.
Revealing Your Worth
The way around the issue of fair pay and salary expectations is to simply not say your previous salary. Instead, the company you are interested in should at least give a salary range for the position, from the lowest set of expectations to the highest within a particular budget. That way, you know whether or not you feel you are being treated fairly based on your skills. A lot of companies print "compensation commensurate with experience" on their job listings. Make sure your years of experience are in line with a company's expectations.
Ask for a Range
A salary range saves a lot of time when it comes to the hiring process, because you don't want to get to the salary negotiation phase after an interview only to find out your salary requirements are too high for the company. Ask ahead of time about the company's high and low salary expectations. For example, if a range starts at $90,000 and goes to $115,000, you can determine if those numbers are good enough for you when you already make $110,000. Is the cost of living lower in that area? Does the employer offer stock options or valuable benefits that may make up for any lowered monetary compensation?
Feel free to politely withdraw from consideration if salary expectations are not in line with what you want. Doing research may prove valuable, but you should also know how your years of experience translates to higher salaries later in your career.
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