Monday, November 30, 2009

Handling the Salary Discussion

Job seekers are often uncomfortable with discussions about salary. The best position for you, as a job seeker, is to have the company share salary information before you ever reveal your expectations. The following are tips to defer salary questions under the various circumstances (applying on-line, working with a recruiter, in conversations with the company representative).


Job seekers often ask how to defer salary discussion when on-line applications require salary information. First and most importantly, only 15% of the available jobs are listed on-line. The majority of positions are found through networking. If you are filling out applications on-line it means you didn’t network into the opportunity.

For the positions you do apply to on-line (where you should spend less than 15% of your job search efforts) there is a trick some job seeker use and that is to fill out an apparently false number (ex. 1234567). This may work but there is as great of a chance it does not depending on how the company has the filters set for the position. Your application may get filtered out before even being reviewed by entering erroneous information.


Recruiters need to know your salary expectations so they can make sure it is in line with the company before they present you. Many recruiters will give you the company’s salary range. If your salary is anywhere near the range and the position is of interest to you, continue to investigate the opportunity. Realize that like home prices, many salaries are being reset to salaries from a few years back.


On the application form you are asked to fill out when interviewing with a company, write in the word “negotiable”.

In conversations with company representatives there are statements that you can use to deflect or defer the question about salary. A friend referred to these as my Wonder Woman bracelet moves. For those who are not familiar with the comic Wonder Woman, she is a super hero member of an all-female tribe of Amazons who uses a pair of indestructible bracelets to deflect bullets and other forms of attack.

In the early stages of the interview, when asked about your salary expectations or previous salary, defer the conversation to a later point by saying something to the effect of “Although important, salary is only one part of the entire package. I want to find out more about the responsibilities of the position first since the work I will be doing impacts the compensation so I’d like to ask you…” then go straight into a question you still have about the responsibilities.

If you are asked about your previous salary, defer it by saying “I’m sure you will make me a fair offer based on what I will be doing versus what I have been doing”.
The third deflector is to ask the company representative “What is the position budgeted for?” This method gets the company to reveal the salary portion of the compensation. You then can reply that your salary is in line with the budgeted amount (if it is or if the budgeted salary is more).

Do you have other ideas?

If you have other methods you have used successfully to defer salary discussions, send them to Your ideas may be used in my upcoming book about the job search.

For other helpful job search tips, check out the blog These informative, full length articles have been published since April so be sure to check out the archives.

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