Q. Four months ago, I applied for a government public information officer position. During the application process, I got asked about my salary requirement. At the time, I listed $60,000. Since then, I’ve interviewed with them once, and after the panel interview they gave us (five candidates) a week to put together a one-year communications plan. I worked hard on the communications plan and turned it in. They called me back in for a second interview.
A. I think there is hope. We cannot know how big a role your initial number played in calling you back for a second interview, so I wouldn’t worry about it.
You are absolutely right that starting salaries are very important. Raises tend to be small — less than 5 percent these days — so your rate won’t change much unless you change jobs, and you want all your raises to be on as large a base as possible.
I would definitely tell them that, based on what you now know about the hours and requirements of the job, you think you should ask for more money. It is inappropriate and presumptuous to do that before you have an offer. The right time is after they make an offer. To get ready, figure out what you think is fair compensation. Consider the entire package, including health, medical, pension and vacation.
When they make the offer, it will have a salary on it, and you should ask about the benefits. Be ready to do a quick calculation if an offer comes. At that point, or in a call soon after, if the number you specified comes back, you could say, “I am excited to get this offer, but I have to be honest with you. After seeing what the position requires, I need to ask for more money.” Then tell them what you think is suitable. This will be your counter-offer.
They will talk to one another and come back to give you a new number or to tell you they won’t budge. They could withdraw the offer, but that usually doesn’t happen, especially if they are pretty sure you are right for the job and really want it.
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