When Should Salary Be Discussed?

In a recent discussion, an unemployed job-seeker shared that she had been on five interviews and was certain that she wasn’t offered a few positions because the salaries they were offering were lower than what she was making at her previous job. She had concluded that the companies were most likely wary of hiring her at a lower wage, for fear that she might leave for a higher paying position once the economy improved. Frustrated, she asked for help on how to approach the delicate topic of compensation for future opportunities.

There were responses coming from all kinds of perspectives for this inquiry:

  • “Remember that salary requirements should never be spoken about in first interviews (provided you know that there will be a 2nd or 3rd round of interviews). Unless the employer brings it up in the first interview, don’t bring it up.”
  • “Start by being honest with yourself, why are you taking a step back? Are you going to bolt when something better comes along. You need to research the position you are applying for and tell them that you are aware of the difference in salary. You need to look at the role and state honestly why you want it and what you could do for them.”
  • “Generally candidates try to deflect discussions about salary and benefits until they have been offered the job and persuaded the interviewers that they are ideal candidate for the job. Smart candidates will do everything to avoid answering direct questions about salary and benefits. Try to bring him back to the parameters which he is looking for and put emphasis on your your suitability for this job.”

This is a tricky topic these days with lots of job-seekers putting themselves up for positions that are a level or two below them simply because they need to make ends meet. There is always the possibility that these candidates will cut and run once things improve, but this is also a very real situation that doesn’t seem to have any one agreed-upon answer.

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There are really two issues here: interviewing for positions that are a notch or two below one’s current level, and discussing salary during the interview process. Would you send a candidate to interview for a position that was below his or her current level? How do you advise your candidates on when to discuss salary? Weigh in with your thoughts below.

Amybeth Quinn began her career in sourcing working within the agency world as an Internet Researcher. Since 2002, she has worked in both agency and corporate sourcing and recruiting roles as both individual contributor and manager, and also served previously as the editor of The Fordyce Letter, FordyceLetter.com and SourceCon.com, with ERE Media. These days she's working on some super cool market intelligence and data analytics projects. You can connect with her on Twitter at @researchgoddess.

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