Tip #6: Align Your Job Search to Your Salary Expectations | 28 Days of Salary Negotiation

In Tip #1 and Tip #2, we offered advice about how to calculate your ideal salary and conduct market research to understand how positions at various level of responsibility fare when it comes to salary. 

One of the main reasons for this is to provide a guidepost for how to select the jobs you will apply for, and the ones you will determine are not worth your time or effort. 

Let's say your ideal salary (at this point in your life) is $65,000 to cover your living expenses, debts, allow for savings, and even let you live a little. Now let's say you're two years out of college, and have one year of professional experience. You do your market research and find that, in your field, you generally have to be a Manager, Senior Manager, or above to guarantee a minimum salary of $65,000. In general, you would not qualify for most Managerial positions, and therefore can't break into this salary range given the current situation. 

In this situation, how do you align your job search with your salary expectations? 

First, determine exactly where the gaps are. Do you need experience managing staff, stakeholders, or volunteers, running projects? Consider finding volunteer opportunities that would introduce you to some of these skills. There are plenty of local-level non-profit Board of Directors that are always looking for people to be engaged. They can provide a great opportunity to develop hard skills that could count as experience when it comes to applying for jobs. 

Next, consider investments in your skills, via workshops, short courses, or credentials. Have you co-managed projects, but level led something from end to end on your own? Consider taking a short course in Project Management, and look into whether credentials like the PMP, Scrum Master, or other such program can substitute for years of management experience. The same applies for other skill areas their associated credentials/education opportunities. Put coursework and relevant workshops you attend on your resume. Use your cover letter to discuss the ways in which you are building these skills. Do not pretend that you had responsibilities you did not indeed have in previous positions. 



Third, consider pushing strategically for more responsibility (and more pay!) in your current role. Are there opportunities to take on specific responsibilities in your current job that could directly translate to a new job in a high position in a relatively short amount of time? Consider positioning yourself to take those on. Be careful, though. If you're already overloaded in your current role (which you probably are) you'll want to have a conversation with your manager about better aligning your duties with your capabilities, and being given the chance to excel and advance in your current role. 

Finally, consider a short-term, incremental step. It's possible that even if you implemented all three of the strategies above, you would still not be in a position for your next role to align with the salary you want to make for the next few years. If this is the case, be sure that you are ONLY applying for jobs that push you in that direction, both in terms of increased responsibilities and a higher demand on your skills, as well as a relatively higher salary than what you're making. No lateral moves in your next position, and no job changes out of desperation where you take a pay (and potential responsibility) cut. If a major priority for you is significantly advancing your salary through your next role, it's important to not bend on this last piece. 

How have you built your body of knowledge and skills as you've transitioned through the job market?