How to answer when we ask you what salary you are looking for

So you’ve applied for a job, they like the look of your resume and have scheduled a phone call. Everything’s going well and then, the question that nearly everyone fumbles, “What are your salary expectations?”

We value transparency at Ento and this starts from when you apply for a role – we even wrote an article on the interview process. But we didn’t cover the salary question in any great detail so to help you answer we thought we’d go through why we ask, how you should answer and how we might respond.

First up – why do we even ask?

Well we need to know how much to offer you when we employ you of course! As part of our interview process you’ll have a phone interview, a 15 to 30 minute call to assess your suitability for the role and Ento’s suitability for you. And part of this is understanding whether your salary expectations fit with what we are able to offer. There’s no value for either you or us in taking up valuable time with interviews if we aren’t going to be able to agree on a salary package at the end.

Before we advertise any new vacancy we put together a detailed hiring plan for the role. This includes deciding on a salary range (and, if relevant, a commission plan) that we feel is reflective of the scope of influence and level of ownership the role has. We validate our decision against salary guides (most large recruitment firms produce these) to make sure we are commensurate with the market.

What this can mean is that people in similar roles at Ento may be on different salaries due to entering the business at different times under different market conditions.

So how should you answer?

A good answer is an informed and an honest one. So before getting on a call with us make sure you do some research.

Take a look at publicly available salary guides, talk to your peers and others in your industry. We’re a startup (albeit funded) so we aren’t always going to be matching enterprise salaries and while we have a range of startup perks (like free lunches, flexible hours and great coffee) these shouldn’t be considered a replacement for salary. Instead they are to make sure you enjoy working with us and you hang around.

Know what the minimum salary you’ll accept is. We don’t care what you are currently earning (and we won’t ask) all that matters is the salary you are looking for in your next opportunity. Sometimes you may be underpaid and, after doing your research, looking for a significant increase. Or you may be on a salary that’s higher than industry averages and you’ll need to take a drop to join our business, assuming of course that the role and Ento is a great fit and the salary still covers your needs.

The number you come up with needs to be one that you feel is fair and that you are comfortable with. If you aren’t it’s not the right answer and you’ll need to reconsider it.

But what do you actually say?

Quite simply, the truth. Tell us the salary (or a narrow range if you prefer) that you are willing to consider for the role and that you feel is fair for the responsibilities of the position.

If the number is outside of our salary range we’ll be up front with you, explain our range and discuss how your expectations fit within that. If we are poles apart we’ll probably discourage you from continuing your application – it’s probably not the right fit for either of us. If we’re close then we’ll discuss if there’s room for movement.

If your expectations are significantly lower than what we were planning to pay for the role then we’ll discuss this too. It may be that your skillset isn’t quite right for the opportunity, or, you’ve completely misread the market when doing your research and your skills are more valuable than you thought!

We don’t negotiate salary at the offer stage for a couple of reasons – one, we won’t low ball you, we’ll offer what we discussed in our initial conversation, i.e. what you told us you want to be paid, so there is no need. And two, for most roles we’re hiring you for reasons other than your negotiation skills so we want to remunerate you fairly and not on what you can negotiate.

All in all the question of how much you’d like to be paid should be a small part of our first conversation with you. We ask to make sure we’re all on the same page and so that if we proceed through a successful interview process and make you an offer it’s one you are going to accept – saving everyone time and stress!

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