As a fresh graduate, expect to send a lot of job applications and attend interviews – if you are lucky to be shortlisted. Job hunting is not easy. You need a lot of patience and focus so you are not discouraged. Along the way, make sure you learn from every interview you attend. One of the toughest questions is when you are asked; “how much salary do you expect?” This can be a really intimidating question especially if it is your first job or you have little or no experience. So how much should you ask for? This question has no specific answer because each job situation can have several variables.
These four steps will give you a guide on a salary range to ask for.
1. Understand yourself
Do a SWOT analysis of yourself in terms of what you are bringing to the job market. It is also important to have a clear vision. What experience do you have; either working as an intern or on voluntary basis? How has it built your life skills? Are you confident about yourself?
2. Do background research
Look for someone you know who has taken up a similar job or role in the same or different company. You can go online and search for adverts for similar jobs and check if they give a salary for such a role. Speak to a career adviser to guide you on how to justify your salary. If you can, ahead of the interview, find out the job expectations and deliverables; it will give you an idea of what people in the industry are paid in that role. This information will help you backup your salary expectation.
3. Think big picture - look beyond the money factor
Be honest and open with yourself. Building a skill and a career is the foundation of better earning in the future. Your focus should not be on money alone. Seek other opportunities in terms of training and career development that your potential employer will offer. As you answer the money question, state clearly why you want the job, your experiences, the skills you will bring and how you will solve problems in the organization. An employer will always pay for the right skills.
4. Ask the right questions
When the interview panel asks if you have any questions, use the opportunity to ask questions that relate to the performance level expected, immediate deliverables for the job, how your performance will be assessed and what type of culture exists in the organization to support and develop young talent. Once the panel responds to your questions, your final comments should demonstrate how your strengths and objectives align to the company and why you are the right candidate for the job.
So what should your answer be?
Give a range that fits the results of your research. In addition, tell the panel that you are willing to negotiate. Should they not offer you an attractive salary find out what other benefits are available. If the job meets your need and has room for growth, determine your priorities. Explore all the options before you decide to walk away from the job offer. Most important, you are worth it, irrespective of the company offering you a low salary than you expected.
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