I 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