For most, discussing the terms of a salary or an hourly rate of pay can be difficult. Some treat salary negotiations as a social taboo that’s on par with asking a woman her age or openly discussing who you plan to vote for in the next election.
But salary expectations are just as important to discuss as the roles and responsibilities of the job itself.
Most recruiters will not continue with scheduling an interview if salary requirements are not somewhat established/matched during that initial interview because it is not fair to try to fit you into a temp-to-hire or direct hire role that isn’t a good fit for you.
But we as recruiters get it; walking into a touchy topic right off the bat with a stranger can be intimidating—especially for job seekers who are just starting out.
So how do you handle the topic of pay delicately but decisively? Is there a professional way to do it without souring your professional prospects?
Here are 4 helpful tips to help you navigate the subject of pay when actively job searching.
When it comes to discussing pay during an interview, there is no crystal ball –only manners and modesty
Assess Your Current Compensation
For most, choosing a career path generally starts with asking yourself about what you have a passion for instead of how much you can be paid. This decision process dates back to elementary school when you answered the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Despite the passion of our inner child, unfortunately, we can’t all be rock stars or astronauts. As we get older, that question (and career decision) becomes a bit more complex, and we start asking questions about the lifestyle we want to live and the pay that is needed to support it.
These questions are something only you can determine, but it’s important to have those questions answered before you start your job search. If you are someone who is looking to make a career change, it is good to keep in mind that there will probably be a drop in salary associated with the transition.
Do Your Homework
When researching salary expectations, the internet can be a great resource. Platforms like LinkedIn, Indeed, Google, Glassdoor, and even Facebook can provide insights on the company you are interviewing with, it’s culture, and pay expectations for similar roles.
In addition to being able to speak intelligently about compensation, coming prepared for your interview with this information shows you’ve done your research, and that is sure to leave a lasting impression on both the recruiter and hiring manager.
Before reviewing the nitty-gritty of pay and hours, it is always a good idea to ask general questions about the role, company culture, and why the position is currently open.
Many candidates make the common mistake of leading with their closing argument, stating a certain level of compensation is owed to them due to the years of work experience they have. This tactic leaves no room for negotiation, and honestly, you could be short-changing yourself from a higher pay rate than the one you just locked yourself into.
We also hear candidates state that because they have “such and such” degree, they deserve “X” amount of compensation. That is a recipe for disaster with almost any hiring manager or recruiter. Receiving a degree of any kind is an accomplishment that should be celebrated, but any good recruiter will tell you our goal is to make genuine professional connections that match your skills and personality; we’re connecting people with their passions, not certificates to companies.
Be Patient but Talk About It
When it comes to discussing pay during an interview, there is no crystal ball –only manners and modesty.
During an initial conversation, or as we call it, a pre-screen for employment, stating you are “flexible” about your salary requirements is a bit dated. Don’t be afraid to list your salary/hourly requirement. If you can be flexible with a pay range, then give a range that you can work within, but give the hiring manager or recruiter something to go off of to help them drill down into the best professional options for you.
Highlight your current or past experience professionally and ask questions. Remember no one is trying to insult your experience or offend you if a position’s pay is lower than you were expecting; it simply means that position isn’t the right fit for you. Just because this specific one does not match, doesn’t mean your recruiter won’t find one in the (near) future!
Be Respectful but Confident
Remember, someone who is calling you about a job is not trying to swindle or sell you something. A good hiring manager or recruiter does not make those initial calls with a position in mind; they make those calls because they want to better understand what you hope to achieve out of your next position.
Take the time to commit to the call or email and respond formally (in full sentences, if via text) and be professional if/when you’re declining a position based on pay.
There is no benefit to you or the recruiter in dragging out a conversation about a role that you’ll ultimately turn down because of the pay. It’s better to be forthcoming and allow the conversation to pivot to other opportunities that will better fit your needs.