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The Meaning of 'Salary Commensurate With Experience'

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Instead of listing a set pay rate in a job ad, employers sometimes specify “salary commensurate with experience,” “salary dependent on experience” or similar wording. In this case, employers want to evaluate a candidate’s work history before offering a salary. If you’re a recent grad, for example, they may offer you less than someone who has five years of directly related experience.

What the Employer Means

For job seekers, “salary commensurate with experience” can prompt confusion. While the ad may include general requirements, such as “at least five years experience in a managerial role,” you can’t know exactly what the employer is looking for or how he evaluates work history. You might think managing a department with ten employees qualifies you, but the employer might want someone who has overseen multiple divisions or locations. Without knowing the company’s standards, it’s difficult to know how to sell yourself. In this case, ask the employer how he defines salary commensurate with experience and what factors influence the salary he’ll offer.

Salary Range

When employers look at experience before offering a salary, they sometimes determine a salary range. If a candidate has the kind of experience they’re looking for, they might offer an amount at the upper end of the range. If the job ad doesn’t include a salary range, you’ll have to research the typical salary for that position to get an idea of how much the employer might be willing to offer. You’ll have to take several factors into account, including the size of the company and the location.

Salary Negotiations

If an employer specifies salary commensurate with experience, prepare to negotiate your salary if you’re offered the job. Since the wage isn’t set in stone, you have some wiggle room and can potentially sway the employer's decision in your favor. Research the typical salary range for the position and decide what amount you need to make it worthwhile to accept the job. Also, identify your strengths and what sets you apart. Focus on these during the interview to demonstrate that you’re qualified and to boost your chances of landing a good offer.

Evaluating Professional Experience

The employer will closely scrutinize the type and amount of experience you have, not only to verify you’re qualified but also to determine how much to pay you. How you describe your previous positions and duties can influence her decision. If you appear under-qualified on paper, you can sell your prior experience in a way that depicts you as competent and talented. For example, focus on skills that transfer to the position you’re seeking. You’ll come across as more qualified than if the employer considered your job titles alone.

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Xavier Arnau/E+/GettyImages