I still don’t know the pay is. I could ask about salary at this step, yet I probably won’t. I tell them I’m still interested. And this second-level person is amazed by my brilliance and wants to hire me on the spot, but I still must talk with Ms. Big, the ultimate decision-maker. Arrangements are made for that to happen, and I still don’t know what the salary is.
Oh, and have I mentioned that this process is taking several weeks to play out?
I have the conversation with Ms. Big and she, too, is overwhelmed with my abilities and wonders aloud why I am even available. I’m that impressive!
“So what are you expecting in terms of salary,” she asks. You’ve done your homework, and you’ve been told by several people that you are above average. You could toss out a number at the high end of the range you’ve researched.
Instead, what if you ask what they’ve budgeted for the position? You know they have a range. Get Ms. Big to put the first number on the table. If it’s within your acceptable range, you should take it. But most folks who hire expect people to negotiate, so I’d recommend reflecting back on the range you’ve uncovered and, especially when you’ve heard just how impressed they are with you, ask for more. They won’t withdraw the offer if you do.
What if Ms. Big refuses to share the salary they have budgeted? This might not be a popular answer, but I’d say, “Thank you, but I’m not willing to work for an organization that is trying to see how little they can pay me. And that’s what this feels like to me, so I appreciate your time, but I’m no longer interested.” If Ms. Big thinks you are worth it, she’ll toss a larger number on the table than even she expected. And if she doesn’t, you probably don’t want to work there anyway.