Navigating the Salary/Compensation? What to do, What Not to do and What to Consider for Candidates and Recruiters
One of the most uncomfortable, sometimes feared, nervous, sensitive and unsure conversations in the interview process can be the salary/compensation discussion. I say discussion because if you are dealing with a reputable, honest, forthright, well intension recruiting professional (firm/agency or corporate) this should be a conversation/discussion and not a question, response and then crickets situation. This is one of the most important areas to discuss and one that can be very comfortable and accomplish what each other is seeking – an understanding. After years of recruiting in the corporate arena, now via a recruiting firm I have participated in tons of salary/compensation discussions the following are some Do’s, Don’ts and items to consider for both the candidate as well as the recruiter:
Do Not make the compensation question the first or last question that is discussed. This is for the recruiter and the candidate. If a candidate asks “well what is the salary” as a first question that will probably be looked at negatively by a recruiter. If a recruiter asks that question first that may tell you something about the culture and raise a red flag for a candidate.
Be Prepared – Candidates do your homework to determine what your range should be or if you were to make a change what is your salary range. Recruiters may ask this even in the very first phone discussion and candidates need to understand that most companies use salary ranges, salary grades, job bands that set parameters for a lot of things including salary. So be prepared to respond and please do not respond that you are not comfortable sharing or you are afraid of being too high or fear of low balling yourself. An excellent recruiter will tee up the conversation just as what it is a conversation, they should explain that they will respond to what you communicate and will tell you if you are too high and should tell you that if you are low they can do better than your expectation. Candidates answer the question and Recruiters respond in kind.
Be realistic – most firms can understand if you are employed and may make a change that you want to improve your level of compensation but please be realistic and do not expect a 30%, 50% or higher increase. Most firms will potentially go 10% to 20%, probably closer to the 10% increase. Also please do not be COCKY or COY and act as if you are the only candidate that can do what you do – you may be really GREAT at what you do but realize there could be others to consider. Another point is that it is always a negotiation but be humble, yet confident in what you are requesting – being humble is not a negative and can be a strength. Comments like “I’d need to know more about the role, the duties and responsibilities before thinking about salary” can be a huge turn off for the recruiter.
Understand – understand that the recruiter is asking the compensation question early out of respect for you and being timely for themselves. There is nothing worse than going through an interview process, you become really interested in the role, the recruiter is really excited about you as a candidate and then it is determined that the compensation for the role or what a candidate is wishing for will not work. It feels so much better for both when the compensation range is at an agreeable point early on and the coming interviews can take place without this question hanging out there. A good recruiter should understand and try to empathize with the candidate and how they are feeling.
Don’t Negotiate Too Early – Candidates keep in mind that the first compensation conversation is not the time to negotiate, that can come later – the first conversation is identifying the range, ball park, parameters so to speak.
Candidates Be Careful – be careful and NOT put the recruiter in a box by asking what is the range for the role. Some recruiters may share the range and some may be hesitant to share because what if the offer is in the middle, not at the top end of the range will you be disappointed or wonder why you did not received an offer at the high end. Candidates keep in mind that some companies have practices to may at a % point within a range. This may allow for future compensation growth, they are aware and mindful of internal equity. Recruiters do not have the approval to make up a salary or have a blank check to write.
I also need this – I have seen and heard many items that candidates have wanted employers to do for them, to consider in an offer or address for them. Such as: My spouse will be changing jobs and I need to make up for their lack of income until they find employment – I have an electric car and will need a plug station to charge my vehicle – I need more vacation time or a higher bonus % (vacations, bonus % and other items are most of the time a part of policy and can’t be changed, it is what it is). Some things are negotiable and some are dictated by policy. It is not fair to expect a company to make up the difference of lost spousal income, some companies do have resources to assist with spousal job search. Such expectations are not realistic, they are recruiting you. Part of the decision as to accept an offer or not maybe can my spouse find or what are the employment opportunities for a spouse and that is your responsibility but do ask about spousal job search assistance and always network.
Candidates do keep in mind your cost of living needs and will the offer cover those expenses. You can ask for a higher offer if you do have those cost of living items to consider and refer to those items as cost of living items, not child care, not the cost to commute, tolls or related items. If there is a need that falls into the relocation spectrum some companies do have flexibility within that area – ask but don’t demand, ask for consideration.
Don’t lie be honest – you could get asked the “what do you currently make” question, if asked be honest. Some companies will ask to see a W2 or a recent pay stub, usually after an offer is made. If you lie you will be risking having the offer withdrawn and this could be after you have resigned, given notice at your current employer. Remember in some states where an employer can’t ask the “what do you currently make” question they may still be able to ask what are your salary expectations for the role or expectations to make a change.
Don’t apologize – candidates that are prepared, have done their homework and understand the salary discussion please do not apologize for your response – be confident but not cocky.
This blog has only scratched the surface when it comes to the compensation questions or discussions but this may provide you topics to consider and give thought to..
If you need assistance with finding the right talent or items such as resume writing, LinkedIn profile build, interview coaching, cover letter crafting and of course recruiting support P3 Integrity Recruiting may could assist and or partner with you on these recruiting related areas.
P3 Integrity Recruiting – www.p3ir.com
Jim Parker (Owner and CEO) – firstname.lastname@example.org – 630-251-8701