Getting the Upper Hand in Salary Discussions

By March 9, 2015 No Comments

By: Taunee Besson

stacking coinsQ: “When discussing salary during a job interview, how do I avoid giving a specific dollar amount before my potential employer does? I don’t want to seem difficult, but I don’t want to lock myself into a lower salary range than the company had intended.”

A: The key to a successful salary discussion is good preparation prior to the interview. If you know the salary range before you begin talking, you won’t have to worry about who asks the compensation question first.

To feel comfortable confronting the issue, it’s important to find out what you’re worth from an employer’s perspective. Researching your likely salary range will provide valuable information for setting realistic income expectations. Many professional organizations have salary surveys for their members. Business or trade publications and websites often feature pay scales for specific industries or careers. As a part of their service, executive search pros must know what candidates with given skill sets can command. A little networking will also get you some “on the money” answers. Once you’ve ascertained what the market will bear and compared it to your current compensation, calculating an appropriate salary range shouldn’t be too hard.

It’s also perfectly logical to ask a potential employer for the job description and compensation of the position you’re pursuing. Neither of you wants to waste time on an interview unlikely to produce a good skill and salary match. While employers obviously don’t want to discuss their individual employees’ compensation packages, they are often willing to talk about overall ranges.

If they divulge a range to you, you can count on its authenticity. Employers rarely make offers above or below their stated range. It’s bad for morale.

Having already determined your likely compensation, you can converse about more pleasant issues during your interview such as how you’ll benefit the company and your potential for long-term growth. Even if your interviewer pops the salary question first, you won’t be worried because you already have your answer in mind.


Taunee Besson headshotTaunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.

“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com  and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions  of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.

Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.

In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997.  
In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

PLEASE follow us!