It’s important to prepare for the dreaded money talk. I’ll show you how to handle this conversation in the most beneficial way to you possible.

How to prepare for the dreaded “money talk”

It’s easy to feel intimidated or unsure how to respond when compensation becomes the topic in an interview with a company you like. Should you avoid answering at all costs and make them tell you what their range is? Should you deflect, and say that the opportunity is more important to you than money? Are you worried about either pricing yourself too high, or fear getting underpaid because you undervalued yourself? 

Be prepared by knowing what you need. Crunch numbers (bills, food, etc.) and come up with a solid bottom line number. Once you come up with that number, ask yourself if you would accept a number that is 5k less than that. Keep that question going until you’ve hit your true bottom line number that you would still be comfortable accepting. For some reference, a 10% increase is a very general reasonable jump when changing jobs. If you are in a career transition, you can easily search the web using LinkedIn, Glassdoor, or Indeed for a local or national average. 

Be transparent about what your goal is and what range you’re targeting. If they bring up a lower number, you will already know if it’s too low for you and you can politely walk away. Any respectable company will not low ball you because it is not in their best interest- retention is. A good employee will not be retained if they are not paying fairly, which ends up costing them more money. Companies know this. 

This should be a conversation. If you’re worried about getting low balled or systematic pay gaps- ask them what they do as a company to ensure that employees are payed fairly. 

It doesn’t matter what the company’s range is. It does matter how much money works for you and what you need to feel comfortable. If a company is paying too low, then it’s not a fit. You need to know what works for you given your skill level, bills, to live comfortably, etc. and being transparent about that can lead to a much more efficient and fruitful conversation than just playing the deflection game, or acting like compensation doesn’t matter to you (let’s get real, it does and they know it does- you are interviewing for a paid position, after all). This not only helps you decide if this is the best opportunity for you based on one of the many moving parts, but it also builds rapport and trust. 

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