Here are some helpful links and scripts (below) to help you feel more EMPOWERED when it comes to discussing money.
The most important (life) advice I have for you – assume good intent. So many job seekers go into this discussion with their fists up, ready to fight. The reality is, recruiters WANT you to succeed! We want to make you an offer you’re excited about. It simply doesn’t compute any other way. If we underpay you, you won’t stay – and that’s assuming you even accept in the first place! Of course, there are exceptions to every rule – but I’ve yet to meet a recruiter willing to risk their own paycheck (for those commission earners) or success (we are judged by the number of hires we make!) to screw you out of a few bucks. It just… doesn’t… make sense.
Here are some tips on how to navigate the salary conversation at each step of the process!
One thing to note – recruiters should NOT ask for salary history. While I can’t speak for every company, several US states have made asking for salary history or current compensation illegal – many companies have adopted this as a best practice nationwide. International companies or other countries may have specific best practices based on local laws so your experience can vary. Asking for salary expectations is still permissible and quite helpful to recruiters.
If a recruiter asks for salary history or current comp, simply say any variation of –
“I’d actually rather focus on my expectations. Before we talk about that, what is the salary range for the position? OR tell me more about the role so I can start thinking about my salary expectations.”
First Call with the Recruiter
Not all recruiters want to cover compensation in the first call. Now in my not so humble opinion, I think we SHOULD – but sometimes we’re nervous too! If you get the question (or just want to bring it up first), here’s a great way to start if you have a number in mind or know what you would need to make a move
“I couldn’t seriously consider a change for less than $XXX. I realize there may be other variables (bonus, equity, etc) that can impact total compensation, but as of today, I would not consider an offer that was less than $X. Can you tell me more about what you’re looking to pay for this role?”
If you don’t have a number in mind, or are afraid to share a number (maybe you’re unemployed or otherwise apprehensive about being too low), try this –
“I need to put some thought into my expectations. Thank you for asking – it would be VERY helpful if you could share some insight into how COMPANY pays. What could someone realistically expect for this role? Are there other factors like equity or bonuses that would be included?”
During the Interview Process
The closer you get to an offer (moving through the interview process, finalist for the role, etc.) the more important these conversations become! Your recruiter ideally should be checking in regularly – this is a GREAT time to remind the recruiter of your expectations! If you aren’t comfortable any longer with the first number you shared, or you’ve done some research that changes your expectations – TELL THEM!
Try this –
“I’ve really enjoyed (whatever process) so far. After doing some additional research, for what the role requires I would need to see an offer of at least $XXX. Given our earlier conversation around $X/N, I wanted to make sure I brought that to your attention so if I do receive an offer, we’re both on the same page!”
I know this feels super awkward and uncomfortable, but trust me – smart recruiters will APPRECIATE the transparency! They’ll also probably work harder to get you the best possible offer because you’ve been so amazing to work with!
Whew, you’ve GOT THE OFFER!! Take a minute and ENJOY IT. You’ve worked hard to get here and you deserve this. Some recruiters may try to get you to verbally accept before they will publish an offer. If you are ready to do that and you’re comfortable verbally committing, GO FOR IT! Everyone will breathe a little easier. If you are like me and need to SEE it in black and white first, don’t let them push you. Try this –
“I am so excited to get an offer from COMPANY. Thank you so much for helping me navigate this process! If the offer is in line with our discussions/my expectations/our agreement I don’t see any reason why I would not accept – however, I would like to review the offer in writing first. When can I expect to see that?” Make sure you are COMFORTABLE with every aspect of the offer and are able to get all your questions answered. Changing jobs is a HUGE deal and you should not be pushed to make a decision before you’re ready! A few days to review / discuss with your family is TOTALLY acceptable, and your recruiter should be willing to give you some room to decide as well as connect you with your future boss or other team members to ask role related questions (if needed).