Why You Should Always Know Your Worth

By Sunday, February 24, 2013 15 Permalink 10

can i change my salary requirementsI got a few questions last week on Twitter from folks that did something during an interview that many of us have done before: Blurted out a salary range when asked, did research after the interview, then realize the range they blurted out was way lower than the industry standard. Uncool beans. It’s very easy to get caught offguard by an impromptu call from a recruiter. That’s usually not his or her intention. It’s not like the recruiter is sitting there at 9:27am on a Monday looking to call you when your brain is still powering on. Sometimes their best time just happens to be your worst time.

However, it’s unacceptable to knowingly go into a (scheduled) interview unprepared to discuss salary — especially the first rounder with the HR person or recruiter. Part of his or her job is to find out whether or not you’re within budget before introducing you to the next step. And if you make it through, you’ll be asked again in later rounds. The only reason that number should fluctuate is because you learned something(s) during the interview process that made you say “Wait a minute. You want me to do all that for this? Nah playa. That’s an additional ten hours a week I hadn’t planned for.” And there’s another group of us that goes into an interview knowing the magic number, but we say a lower amount because we’re scared it may cost us the opportunity. Also uncool beans.

My Advice: You should know your salary range for all the jobs you’ve applied for. If they’re in the same line of work you’ve been doing, it shouldn’t change much. If you’re quoting four to five different salary ranges for similar work in the same city, you’re a scatter-brained jobseeker and the subject of a future post (I’ll be nice). For those of us that are currently facing the situation above, you need to bring it up before the final interview. Nothing is more annoying than getting to the final step of the process then having to have the “That’s not what you told me before,” conversation.

If you have another interview coming up (that’s not the final), wait until it has passed then send an email to your main contact (recruiter or hiring lead) like this: “Thanks again for the interview opportunity. I learned a lot in the last conversation, which helped me better gauge the role. After doing some additional research, I realized the salary I previously quoted was a bit low by industry standards and wanted to update my range to X to X.” From here, list a few concrete reasons that you’re updating. For example:

  • You thought the job was a level 1 job, but after considering what you learned and looking at GlassDoor.com or Salary.com,  it turned out it’s more like level 2.5, which indicates a range of X to X.
  • The job requires more travel than expected or work on weekends, which means you’ll have less time with family.
  • You just got an industry certification, which you want to make sure is reflected in your compensation.

Close it out by saying you hope this doesn’t disrupt the process, that you’re excited to move to the next step, and you’re happy to talk about this in more detail need be necessary. If you’re just looking to increase the number because a friend told you to, you’ll find yourself in a tougher spot. To avoid that awkwardness, do some research and know your numbers. And if you’re dropping your range because you’re afraid of being eliminated from contention, then you don’t believe in what you’re worth. If you’re on the cusp and have a great background, they won’t just automatically eliminate you. They may try to talk you down, which is usually a sign they want to move you to the next step of the process. Hold to your well-researched range…and get money. Rich

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  • Sandra

    That’s right, one of my teacher used to tell us the exact same thing. Never devaluate yourself in front of a recruiter just because you want the job so bad.
    Thank you for this great article.

    • Rich

      Thanks for reading!

  • Great content. Empowering and applicable…those that don’t eat aren’t hungry. Thank you sir..

    • Rich

      “those that don’t eat aren’t hungry”

      I like that. *Adds to lexicon*

  • Mahesh

    I am facing a similar problem. I have completed the interview process and salary negotiations and then learned that I have demanded way less package than what they really can offer for my experience and skillset. What can I do now?

    • Rich

      If you’ve already signed the offer and agreed to a start date, there isn’t much you can do without looking unprofessional and running risk of them rescinding offer or you starting the job on a bad note. Your best bet may be to get in, perform well, then make a strong case during year end review season for an increase.

      • Mahesh

        I have stated my expected salary at the first call from the employer. I am yet to receive final call from the HR for salary discussion. Can I demand more than what I did at the first call? If so, how to negotiate by not ending up losing the offer?

  • Dafna

    Question: I had an interview last week where the recruiter of the company put me on the spot for the salary. I gave her my previous salary and the one before. She asked what would be your minimum and without thinking i said 4K less than the previous salary. I didn’t want to jinx it. Now it’s only 4K less but i definitely need that extra. My second interview is coming up and since it’s a huge difference I wanted to ask if I could do a regular salary negotiation and say something in the lines of well, after the second interview and learning more about the role, I was looking to make what i have made previously because they might hold me to the minimum I was willing to accept. Or should I say it after the second interview? Like i said with this amount, i think it worth dealing during an offer and not risk this.
    Thanks for your input!

  • Rich

    Hey Dafna,

    I’d save this conversation for after the interview. See how that goes and if they give you the chance to revisit the conversation in advance of offer stage, feel free to do so. If they’re not into playing games, they won’t lowball you at less than you make now. And if they do, negotiate up using the same line you shared with me. And of course take this as a lesson learned. Good luck!


    Good morning Rich, I am using your advise as I am waiting to receive offer per phone then hopefully (usually) through email. I interviewed 3x. the first on the phone, where one of the 2 interviewer excitedly explained that I may be better fit for a different position. Then face to face was for the 1st position applied for. after asked I gave a expected “but willing to accept less.($19-20per hour” Then I received email to apply for a specific position. The interview I learned I was already consider for the new position and crossed the interview and conversation still in customer service mode instead of account coordinator($21.-24per hour) mode which industry standards pays more. I know what happened here and because the new job is suppose to be detailing it fears me a little to correct this error. Wanted to get your thoughts. I am still going to ask, so I will know. The worst can happen is they say no. Thank you again.

  • Anjanette

    Rich, On Monday October 14, 2013, I will be returning to a potential new employer but to only discuss salary.
    I applied for customer service position but one of the interviewers on the panel of 4 found that I would be a better fit for her old job. I actually had 2 interviews for customer service, phone and in persons. After about a week, I received a email from that same interviewer asking if I would put an application in for the position of Account Coordinator using the specific job number and let her know when I have completed that. I did. She replied and said that we would be in touch.
    about 2-3 days later, I was scheduled for a interview for the second position. I was then interviewed one-on-one(rather met with) the floor manager of the department for which I would be working.
    In this meeting (interview) I was told that his supervisors spoke highly of me and were impressed with my experience and wanted me for the Account Coordinator position. Again, the original interview was for customer service. As we continued, the conversation was crossed between two positions. For that, when I was asked about how much I was looking to make, my thought process, I wanted to be along the same lines of when I first was asked in the first and second interviews. He then says, well it is not up to him but he will work to get me as much I he can but he needs the in the work performance.
    When I got home I researched and saw where I made mistake and send an email to fix the error. Here is a copy of the email:

    What a pleasure it was speaking with you on yesterday.
    It was additionally gratifying to have learned that through my second interview for the Customer service position that I was being considered an excellent candidate for the position of Account Coordinator.
    After speaking with you further I was able to detail much about the positions. What I learned through our conversation helped me better gauge the role of the Account Coordinator. After doing some additional research, I realized the salary I previously quoted was a bit low by industry standards and wanted to update my range to $23 to $21 per hour.
    When asked about what money I was looking for, I was still thinking in Customer service standards which the interview was not for anymore and may be due to my original application.
    Also, I am available to accept the 7am start time if it still remains open.
    I hope this does not disrupt the hiring process, and you remain excited as I am to move to the next step(s).
    I would be happy to talk with you in detail if all necessary as I continue to wait for the official job offer.

    [* this info not included in email(Glassdoor provided pay info for this specific job and company) low $42k-high48k, average listed as 45K} I felt that I would have lowballed myself considerably if I would have chosen not to say anything.

    I also called 2x after not receiving a reply. I finally received a reply to my email and the manager which I met with for the AC position replied thanking me for my time earlier that week and that he was working with HR to present an offer letter.
    almost 2 weeks went by and I finally received a call from the person on the panel who thought I would be great for the position, that they wanted to present me with an offer and wanted to schedule an appointment for me to come in and discuss the details. Calling her back, I ask if I could get some details, and she replied no, she cannot do that and said I have to come in and am I still interested?
    Is this normal? Your opinions on if there are there red flags? How would you prepare for this? they are aware that I am unemployed and have been for 2 years but I did start a fitness business which I only run on the weekends and would not conflict with my new employment. Your thoughts please. thank you for your insight!

  • venkat

    Hr convinced me to take the salary which
    Is low in company standard even i asked him for the good one he said you are getting more than our employers but after the offer letter i came to know that my colleagues who are joined with me has offered more salary in offer letter except me i have not signed the agreement means on the offer i got but i have joined before the offer letter came late with my joined date what can i do please help

  • Lalasabby

    The company met my salary demand, but I made before I knew the company’s merit increase practices and vacation allotment. I’ve revived an offer but am considering asking for more now that I have that additional info. Am I risking having the offer rescinded?

    • Rich J.

      I’m not clear if you signed an offer letter or not. Also, are you saying the vacation and merit increases are significantly less than you have now? If you have not signed the letter, you can make an additional request and it would probably be expected since you have new info.

  • Rohit Singh

    Hello Richard,

    I have already signed the offer letter and I am in a same kind of situation. Please suggest me I should talk to them about that or not.

    Rohit Singh