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Knowing When to Discuss Compensation

April 22, 2013
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I get a kick out of candidates that (from day one) start off each conversation about what to expect regarding the compensation once they've interviewed with one of my clients. Forget discussing the Where, What and the Why of a potential new role -  let’s skip all of that and move to the meat of the matter and discuss what's really important: the amount they’ll be receiving and how often they'll get paid! It sends a hiring manager a very clear message when the candidate brings up compensation too early in the interview process, especially when the candidate has not even made it to first base (yet). But wait, there's even worse: asking the hiring manager for a copy of the benefits package in the same breath. I’ve seen it done (over and over), and yet I’ve never seen it play out quite the way the candidate would hope. You need to understand the range for a new role. I get that. But once you know you are in the right comp range – park the money conversation until a later date.  

C’mon people – we are smarter than that! Is compensation important in considering a new role?  Absolutely! It’s just not what needs to roll off your tongue on the first interview. It should be a natural process that ultimately leads to discussion, but should never be the focal point for why a candidate’s interested in changing jobs. If it is , then we've got a problem! It’s also very bad for the hiring manager to ask about compensation too early. I always tell my candidates to try to avoid answering the question. Instead, I advise them to focus on learning more about the organization, culture and the role before discussing compensation. And talking about compensation could wind up becoming a moot point anyway - if the fit is not there, then it's just not going to happen. There is so much more to consider and compensation is only one of the four C’s to consider when making a career move.          

In the end, making a change is stressful enough. Being eliminated early in the process because you've placed too much focus on how you’ll get paid just adds to the stress. Let things play out naturally. A close friend of mine used to tell me “You either create your value internally or externally”. 

If you are the right person for the role then money will take care of itself.

It always does.