Business Etiquette: How to Appropriately Talk About Your Salary in a Professional Setting
Talking about salary is generally considered taboo, and it should be discussed with care. But it’s not necessarily inappropriate and it’s definitely not illegal, as some professionals may think. Since most organizations discourage talking about wage, and some people feel uncomfortable discussing it, understandably, it can be an awkward topic to bring up, so it’s best discussed in a thoughtful manner. In this article we will discuss different professional settings where your salary might come up and how you can talk about it.
At a Networking Event. Whether you run into a former colleague or make a new acquaintance who is familiar with the company you work for, you may be faced with the question, “So what are they paying there these days?”
While it isn’t wrong to talk about salary, the way you respond will leave an impression on those listening so choose your response carefully. To prepare for this kind of question ask yourself:
Am I happy with my current salary? If not, have I done anything about it?
Do I have good benefits as part of my compensation package?
Do I make the median range for my area, position, and years of experience?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you can feel more confident if you decide to provide the actual number. Or you can limit yourself to saying you make around the average salary for your years of experience and area and you enjoy good benefits.
If you answered no to the above questions, instead of using the opportunity to complain about your situation, use it as an opportunity to ask your networking connections for tips on salary and benefit negotiations. You could say something like, “I have been at my position for awhile now and I feel I should be making more than I do. Do you have any advice on how I could approach the situation?”
In a Performance Review. You may feel uncomfortable bringing the subject up, but managers are used to discussing salary so you don’t need to feel awkward about it. Most employers want to see you take the initiative to work for and ask for a raise, they’re not going to just hand it to you. But you must remain professional during the conversation of course, since negotiations won’t always end in your favor. Avoid taking negotiations personally.
A key to talking about your salary in these situations is good preparation. Do your research on sites like Glassdoor and conduct informational interviews with others in similar job positions to know your worth. This will help you avoid asking for the right range for compensation.
Preparation also involves understanding and demonstrating your credentials and accomplishments. Once you have done your homework, practice what you will say, making sure to not use phrases that sow doubt in the mind of your manager such as I think, I need, just, or only. Practice a firm yet calm and confident tone. Avoid making accusations or comparisons with other employees.