How to Broach a Discussion on Salary
Henry Goldbeck and Karen Epp of Goldbeck Recruiting give helpful insight on how to broach a discussion on salary.
“If the candidate is at later stages of interviewing they should know the salary range already. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for the salary range at the first interview or even before agreeing to the interview. When doing so the candidate should make sure that they do not imply that money is the only reason for being interested in the position. they would say, ‘I am really interested in the position but I want to make sure that the salary works for me and I don’t want to waste your time if it is not going to be a fit. What is the salary range for the position?’ or ‘I am currently working and, though I am very excited about this opportunity, I need to make sure that it makes sense financially to make a move. What is the salary range for the position?’
Of course as a recruiter I have heard the same thing but much blunter and direct at times. Usually the older and more experienced the candidate, the easier it is to be straightforward regarding salary; i.e.; ‘I am at $$ so I need at least $$$ to move. Or, I am at $$$ and really like the opportunity but will not take a cut in pay’, etc.
It is harder when you are new to the work force but it is usually ok to just speak honestly about what your expectations are and as questions about what the position is offering. Most companies will reciprocate and if they like you as a candidate they will try to work it out within their parameters.
The leverage is always unique to the situation and comes from how much you want/need the position and how much the employer wants/needs to hire you. As a candidate you want to make sure that you have the option of saying yes or no to the position. That means knowing enough about the salary range to decide to pursue or not pursue the position but not focusing on the salary range until they want to offer you the position. Then you can negotiate within the range or maybe a little above if you have the leverage.
Do not waste your time pursuing a position where the range is below what you can accept, thinking that they will go way beyond the range because you are so great. You will end up having wasted your time, the employers time and making a bad impression with the employer. If the employer has a range of 50-60k for example and you need 80k, that will not happen in 99.9% of the time, no matter how great you are.”
– Henry Goldbeck, President Goldbeck Recruiting
“I suggest that candidates respond to the Salary request with three brief statements.
1. Current salary and qualify
2. Minimum expected
It will sound something like this.
‘In my current position I am working at a small public practice earning ___. I took this role knowing the salary was lower than average but I wanted to gain the foundational experience to complement my studies. At this time I will accept a minimum of _____ but my goal is to prove my abilities and be at _____ by the end of the year (or in two years).’
OR, it could sound like:
‘I am currently earning _________ which I understand is above market for a role at this level. I have been with this company for a number of years and they have valued my contribution.
Now that I am making a change I am willing to take less to learn and be part of a new industry. The minimum that I will accept at this time is ____. My goal is to show you the value I can add to your organization and be at __________in two years.’
By giving a range and your expectations the company is less likely to start you at the bottom. I have no scientific proof to back this, but have found it works. Qualifying your most recent salary give perspective. It needs to be short and concise as we don’t want you to ramble on. Your expectation and goal numbers need to be realistic and your motivation to be successful needs to be there. If you give a single number answer, like I want $75,000, (but you really want to be at $90,000 in 2 years) unless you tell them they will not know. They won’t even consider $80,000 even if it was in the range and you said you want $75,000. I have found the 3-point answer leaves room for more discussion regarding salary.
I don’t see an issue with asking about the salary range. But this should not be the first questions out of your mouth. Sincere interest in the role needs to be there first. Intuition on timing is important as well.
Do your own research before heading to the interview, as company size and sector definitely play a part in how much a company can offer.
One could frame the question: ‘Are you open to discussing the range that you will consider for the position?’”
Karen Epp – Senior Recruiter, Goldbeck Recruiting
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