Friday Forum – What is the Right Way to Handle Salary Discussions?

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Happy Friday and Welcome to the Friday Forum!

Every Friday we take a question submitted by one of our users and have our professionals field it and provide advice.  We then encourage members of the Need a New Gig community to comment below and give their take!

Here is This Week’s Question:

Paul asks:

“I wanted to ask you about a phone interview with HR that I had yesterday afternoon. We talked about my background and how it fits their role. She asked me about my current salary. I respectfully said that I was more interested in “fit” with this company and this role. She persisted. She said she wanted to make sure we weren’t wasting each other’s time. I respectfully assured her that we weren’t wasting each other’s time, and that I was definitely interested in this role because, I really am! But she asked if I would give her a range. I stayed persistent and respectful and just stated again how I felt my background fits this role very well. We got past salary and discussed other things. She allowed me to ask questions and I feel like the conversation wasn’t ruined by the topic of salary. At the end, she stated again that later on in the process, they’d need to know my salary, or at least a range. The conversation ended with her telling me of a date where they’d look to have an on sight interview, which I thought was good.

But, what is the right way to handle salary discussions? In my mind, they should inform me of what the position pays (or at least a range). To me, my current salary should not matter.”

The salary questions is always a tough one.  There are people that feel strongly on both sides of the fence regarding whether you should disclose this information.  So many things come into play including the job, responsibilities, cost of living, the company, the employees, experience, and the list goes on.

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Recruiters

Recruiters often like to know a candidate’s salary so that they can figure out a strategy to make it work for both parties.  A good recruiter usually tries to make it a win/win for the company and the candidate.  If you are working with a trusted recruiter it is usually a good idea to disclose this information for a few reasons.

First off, it helps identify opportunities that match your background.  If a recruiter has an idea on compensation, they have a better chance of finding a position that is the right fit for you.  You don’t have to worry about interviewing for a role that pays less than your current compensation.  You also don’t have to worry about interviewing for a position in which you are under qualified.  It really helps take the guess work out of the process.

Recruiters can also use this information to your advantage.  It is important to remember that recruiters are paid based on a percentage of your compensation.  This means that they will always fight to get you more money, as it would lead to a higher fee for them.  My advice is to be sure to give every piece of your your compensation.  This includes everything from current base salary, bonus potential and history, vacation time, 401k, benefits, and anything else that could be considered part of your compensation package.

Employers

Employers can be a little bit of a different story.  You have to be careful here, because they could use this information to their advantage.  If your current salary is near the low end of their range, they may come in with a lower offer.  HR is usually trying to find ways to cut costs, and they are not always looking to pay at the top of their set range.

Most applications will require that you list your current salary, which is difficult to avoid.  We recommend writing down a range as opposed to giving an exact history of compensation.  If the question comes up during an interview, stick with that same range.  Let them know that you are currently in that range and that is what you would be looking for in order to make a move.

Conclusion

Overall you have to approach the salary question with caution.  There are cases where not disclosing your current salary can be of harm.  Some recruiters/employers can be turned off if you don’t cooperate with the question, which could cost you the job.  Try to read the situation.  Use the tips above.  If they are still persistent, it may be in your interest to give them what they need.  Remember, you aren’t obligated to take a position, even if they offer it to you.  If an offer comes in low, you can always refer back and let them know that you were looking in the range that you provided.  Negotiating the offer is always an option as well.

What are Your Thoughts? Comment Below!

Dan Metz is the Director of Executive Search and Employee Development at the Resilience Group, LLC, and Co-Founder and Contributing Author for Need a New Gig.  Follow his blog for more great tips like this!

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