An employer’s goal is to pay as little as possible, within reason.
An employee’s goal is to earn as much as possible, within reason.
Getting the salary right is about being ‘within reason’. Employers should know the market value of a resource before they set out to hire. Employees should know what they are worth on the open market – this is especially true for employees who have spent a long time with one employer. Sometimes an employee is worth more to their current employer, given how well they know the business, than they might be to a new employer. Employees, as candidates for a new position, need to think this through as they consider their salary expectation.
On the flip side, employees may be under-paid with their current employer and may have an opportunity to catch up in a new position. One way to address this in an interview would be for a candidate to state upfront what they are currently earning and then to add ‘I know I am underpaid based on my experience and I am looking for ‘x’ in my next position’. As long as the number is ‘within reason’ there should be no problem getting it.
A word of caution to all candidates who, when asked what their current salary is, say “my salary is ‘x’ but for the right opportunity I would take less”. As soon as you suggest you are open to less, it is almost a guarantee you will be offered less. There is no need to undervalue yourself if your salary expectation is ‘within reason’. If you would take less, just imagine how long it might take you to get back to what you were earning before. Do not offer to take less. When asked what your salary expectation is, state it and be comfortable with the number given your awareness of what you are worth.
I have met employers who want to pay unreasonably low salaries based on the experience they are looking for.
I have met candidates who want unreasonably high salaries based on their experience.
Get the salary right – keep it simple and within reason.