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Salary Expectations - Be Prepared


I grew up in America, and made aliyah when I was 31. I have a technical background, not sales/marketing. I don’t remember engaging in many financial negotiations before I arrived in Israel. Things were simpler – there was a price tag in the store – you paid this amount if you wanted the product. A newspaper subscription, telephone service… there was a listed price and you only had to decide if this was acceptable for you. In fact, the only negotiation I remember was the time I purchased a new car; this is the one situation I encountered in the US where haggling is expected, and as a novice I left that encounter with the car, but also with a very bad feeling that I performed poorly and got taken advantage of (both were true).

Now, after living in Israel for more than 10 years, negotiation has become second-hand. Not that I claim to be an expert or even good, but at least I am aware of it and am not intimidated to start the process/game. Strangely enough, when I arrived in Israel and decided to buy a new car, I found that this is about the only instance here when negotiation is NOT generally possible. On one hand, it was a relief (as I couldn’t be taken advantage of compared to others), but when the price of a car in Israel is approximately twice the price of a car in the US, this feeling is a mixed blessing.

Each employer has their own philosophy regarding when to check candidate salary expectations. Sometimes this query will arrive as a request in the job listing itself when you are submitting your application, other times it will be raised in an initial telephone interview, and it may also appear much later in the interviewing process. There are also employers that don't raise this issue directly at all, they simply make a job offer and wait for the reaction. 

I have heard many people complain because companies don’t list the salary for the position in the job listing itself. From one perspective, this would save the job seeker and the employer a lot of time, as it is more likely that unqualified people would not apply. Typically companies in Israel will not publicly announce their salary structure, but if they ask in the job advertisement or in an initial phone interview for the candidate’s salary expectations, then they are trying to accomplish this initial screening.

What is the best approach for the job seeker to take when the questions is posed to them in one form or another?

There are three (3) possibilities in how your response will be processed:

• You come in lower than their salary range – in this case they may either consider you under-qualified OR see that they have an opportunity to get a good person lower than the range they had in mind OR they will understand that you would certainly be open to the range they have in mind
• You come in within their salary range – good match
• You come in above their salary range – they may consider you overqualified/mismatched OR they may try to see if you would be open to work in their salary range OR they may say for someone this good they are willing to consider raising their range

All of this is generally academic, since you as the candidate cannot have confidence that you know their range. However, if you do know the actual salary range within the market in Israel in general, then this is an excellent starting point. It is absolutely critical for the job candidate to try to determine the average salary range for their target job. If you don’t know this already, then speaking with people that work in the same profession is a good way to get to this information.  Sometimes you can find salary surveys online (most are in Hebrew), but is not clear to me how accurate they are.

Giving a range rather than a flat figure is usually a good idea, as it gives you a better chance to overlap into the range of the employer.

Many people are flexible in their salary expectations, especially people new to the Israeli employment market. So for instance, in order to guard against coming in too high, you can add to your salary expectations response that you are flexible and open to discussion.

Other companies take the approach that they want to get to know the candidate and understand their capabilities, and only then to raise the issue of salary. The idea here is that if the company decides that they want the candidate, they can oftentimes find a way to make the compensation work. In this case, your response will typically be the beginning of the compensation negotiation.

At some point or another you can expect that if the employer is interested in you, they will ask for your salary expectations. You as the job candidate should do your homework beforehand and not be caught unprepared.

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