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Let’s talk about money


30 June 2022 at 5:39 pm
Isabelle Oderberg
The question might be in a written application. It might be asked verbally in an interview. But it doesn’t matter how it’s posed, it’s always awkward. And it’s just not a question many people want to answer. So what is it?


Isabelle Oderberg | 30 June 2022 at 5:39 pm


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Let’s talk about money
30 June 2022 at 5:39 pm

The question might be in a written application. It might be asked verbally in an interview. But it doesn’t matter how it’s posed, it’s always awkward. And it’s just not a question many people want to answer. So what is it?

 “What is your current salary?” It’s a question we’ve all heard at some point. 

Your first thought might be, “Can they even ask that question?”. 

The simple answer is yes, because while in some places in the world it isn’t legal to ask how much money a candidate is currently earning, in Australia it certainly is, which means you have to be prepared in case it happens to you. 

But just because they ask the question doesn’t mean you have to answer. In fact many experts advise job hunters not to answer this question, especially if you’re hoping to work your way up the pay scale ladder in a new role. 

There are lots of techniques to dodge the question or turn it around to work to your advantage. 

A first step is to say that rather than giving your current salary, it might be more constructive to give your salary expectations – meaning the salary you would hope to earn in the new role. This is particularly applicable if the role involves managing more people for instance, is a step up in terms of seniority or perhaps means moving to a larger organisation.

Another technique you can deploy is to turn the question around by asking what the budget range for the job is and then simply defining, both for yourself and the prospective employer, whether you’re a financial fit. 

The final workaround might be to reference the average rates of pay for the type of role for which you’re applying. 

There are two good ways to do that. The first is to use a salary survey, like the Pro Bono Australia one here. Another might be to check with your union or the union for the sector, many of which publish suggested salary ranges on their website, depending on levels of experience. 

If you do decide to state what salary you’re currently earning – which is fine as long as you’re comfortable – then be sure to note if you’re looking to increase that number in line with a new role. You can give a range such as 10 to 20 per cent, or a baseline figure. And never forget to communicate whether the number does or doesn’t include superannuation. 

If you’re on the hunt for a job solely because you want to earn more money, being offered something in your hoped-for salary range could also give you leverage to ask your current boss for a raise or you could even ask for one before you start hunting for something else. How do you do that? Glad you asked


Isabelle Oderberg  |  @ProBonoNews

Isabelle joined as the editor of Pro Bono Australia after working as a journalist and media and communications professional for over two decades.


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